Tone and Texture Thrive in Asian Diner

FROM THE ARCHITECTS. Light Years Asian Diner is an exploration of tonality, texture, and threshold: honest materiality and playful gradients were central in capturing the famed local personality of the restaurant, cuisine, cocktail, and waitstaff. Studio Plenty teamed up with Sarah Ellison to achieve this bold concept; an elevated departure from the restaurant’s humble beginnings.



Studio Plenty was approached by the Light Years team to design an expansion and renovation of their original restaurant in Byron Bay – a fun fit-out that had served them in their humble formative years. The ensuing project brief was to capture the famed playful personality of Light Years, to refine and elevate the brand to a new plane. The brand’s sister venues all exhibited common thematics, but it would be the Byron location that would be the jewel in the crown.

In what appears to be an overtly playful scene, undertones of sensibility are threaded through a series of dining and interstitial spaces; tonal and textural gradients, material thresholds, and quaint openings give each space a distinct spatial identity. The dining experience is defined by the character of each localized composition but ultimately observed as a holistic theme, harmonized as a complete continuum. It was in collaboration with Sarah Ellison that the theme was complimented as a furniture concept, her mastery of tactility, simplicity, and rational design was immense in achieving a successful outcome.

Praised for its warmth, coziness, and intimacy, Light Years Byron Bay has been described as ‘being in the womb’, a product of its daring concept to explore tones, textures, and thresholds. Studio Plenty has asserted a bold and coherent concept in a small-town context, challenging the norm and opening the door for innovation. Studio Plenty implemented commonplace sustainable practices such as hard-wearing material finishes to ensure an enduring fit-out, maintaining high ceilings to maximize natural light, and ensuring natural ventilation for patron comfort and air quality. Where this project shows its vigor is in its determination to remain locally grounded: collaborating with local furniture designer Sarah Ellison and local artist Studio of the Sun. An integrated design process that engages local talent allows the design to be positively influenced by threads of local culture and context, which inevitably form part of the fabric experienced by patrons.

Provide a statement about the date and process for the establishment of the practice, including the number and type of projects completed by the practice and a brief comment on the principal’s background and age – 150 Studio Plenty was born in late-2020, having coffee and a laugh with a mate at a small cafe, Roadhouse, in Byron Bay. The practice has completed one project, Light Years Asian Diner, and was formalized in the foreshadowing of this very project. With several new projects in the pipeline in Byron Bay, Melbourne and Brisbane, Studio Plenty looks forward to a bright and bubbly future. Studio Plenty is Will Rathgeber, 32, currently working part-time for Harley Graham Architects in Byron Bay, and previously for Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and Woods Bagot in Melbourne. Will studied for his architecture master’s at Melbourne University, and his bachelor’s at Deakin University, and travelled for several studies exchanges at CEPT University in India, Seoul National University in South Korea, and the University of British Colombia in Canada.

Plenty, being the operative word, ubiquitous in Australia, often exercised graciously in response to offers of seconds and thirds at the dinner table; ‘Plenty’ is our opposing attitude to the common state that more means happiness. Our ideology is an antithesis to this mindset, simply put, ‘that’ll be plenty, cheers’. Our appetite is for rational design, avoiding excessive tendencies, and encouraging an obsession for functionalism; essentially, we seek to insight into happiness which we believe is achieved through sensible design. Studio Plenty is a small practice based in Byron Bay; we opt for sensibility in design over all else. ‘Plenty’ is our opposing attitude to the common state that more means happiness. Our ideology is an antithesis to this mindset, simply put, ‘that’ll be plenty, cheers’.

Architects | Studio Plenty
Photographs | Jessie Prince via ArchDaily
Manufacturers | Artedomus, Brodware, Fibonacci Stone, RBW, Sarah Ellison, Space Furniture, Studio Henry Wilson
Builder | One Eleven Group
Principle Designer | Will Rathgeber
Furniture Design | Sarah Ellison
Artist | Studio of the Sun
Door Hardware | Green Studio


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