Aru Restaurant


Audrey Shaw

Sarah Lake

Toby Pond

Client: Halim Group

Collaboration: Figureground Architects

The design intent was developed around the central hearth, showcasing preparation and cooking. Fire is at the heart of Aru’s cuisine. So whether dining at the bar or within a banquette, there’s a view to the source of heat, the wood fired hearth.


Colours are earthy and warm in line with the themes of heat and spice. A colour gradient – from lighter to darker / bright to moody – combined with subtle level changes define several dining areas, with an increased sense of intimacy from street to the private dining area at the back of the restaurant.

The warm earthy palette of spotted gum timber, terracotta bricks, marble, leather and low lighting, complement the tenor of the Sino-Indonesian-Australian cuisine. The lighting is designed to create a sense of drama, in effect a theatrical stage set; the dining space is dimly lit appropriate for the audience, however the kitchen is radiant – always on show. The shadows and moodiness of the materials and lighting.

As you venture through, there is a deliberate increased sense of intimacy. The front is light, open and casual with private dining towards the rear, which is darker and formal. Holding these areas together and grounding Aru in place is the brick floor, reminiscent of the hearth. The stepped floor combined with of metal mesh between the levels enable the space to work as one large dining space or as a series of smaller ones. It also aids view lines between levels to enhance the drama and spectacle of dining. The outcome is flexible and experiential, cookery and local ingredients are on show, diners interaction is essential to the overall space.