The co-founder of Syd­ney restau­rant, No­mad, which she runs with her hus­band Al, tells us how her de­sign back­ground is chan­nelled into its every de­tail.

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What was your in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the in­te­rior look of No­mad?

We were look­ing for a space for No­mad for two years un­til we fi­nally se­cured Foster Street – a Surry Hills ware­house dat­ing back to the 1800s. Strip­ping back the in­te­ri­ors, which was white plaster­board walls and ceil­ing, to re­veal the his­tory and bones of the space was an ab­so­lute rev­e­la­tion. I wanted the space to feel warm and for the ma­te­ri­als to be tac­tile to re­flect the beauty of the his­tory of the space. I wanted No­mad to be quintessen­tially Aus­tralian, show­cas­ing Aus­tralian ar­ti­san de­sign and work­man­ship with­out be­ing ‘themed’.

What was it like work­ing so closely with your hus­band on the pro­ject?

We have very dif­fer­ent skill sets. He is a builder by trade and with my back­ground in de­sign we had a clear de­lin­eation of what he was charged with and what I was. Still today we have our dif­fer­ent strengths and weak­nesses and luck­ily they are com­ple­men­tary – most of the time!

Was tak­ing your passion for in­te­rior de­sign into the realm of food and wine a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for you?

My hus­band was a res­tau­ra­teur when we met. None of my friends were sur­prised when we started dat­ing and it did feel like a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion when we started the process of com­ing up with a con­cept and ex­e­cut­ing the build of No­mad. It was driv­ing to the open­ing with staff and cus­tomers that was the daunt­ing part for me, al­though food and wine have al­ways been my ab­so­lute passion, turn­ing this into a ca­reer has been a huge learning curve.

Does your de­sign in­flu­ence fil­ter down to the level of the glass­ware, cut­lery and crock­ery?

Yes, we had a few de­lays with coun­cil ap­provals and the like with get­ting No­mad open so I did have the lux­ury of time when it came to the small de­tails that re­ally have an im­pact on our din­ers. The crock­ery was all de­signed and hand­made by lo­cal pot­ter Mal­colm Green­wood. The colour pal­ette and or­ganic shapes of all of our plate­ware was a re­flec­tion of what I was af­ter for the look and feel of our restau­rant.

What’s your favourite NO­MAD dish?

Our house-made haloumi. The ac­com­pa­ni­ments change with the sea­son but the ac­tual cheese, which is made by our chefs daily, I still can’t get enough of.

What do you love about the smaller pro­duc­ers you use?

Smaller pro­duc­ers have a story be­hind what they do and a passion for what they create. Whether it be a milk pro­ducer from the Hawkes­bury area north of Syd­ney or a wine pro­ducer from Beech­worth Vic­to­ria, there are so many peo­ple pro­duc­ing in­cred­i­ble prod­ucts that de­serve to be cel­e­brated.

Have you got any plans for No­mad go­ing for­ward?

Al­ways plan­ning! We have changed our menu and wine list for the win­ter and there is no bet­ter place to be on a cold blus­ter­ing night than our din­ing room with wood-roasted pork and a cheeky glass of red from Can­berra.

other ven­tures on the hori­zon?

We are look­ing at op­por­tu­ni­ties but it has to be the right move. We waited two years for our ware­house in Surry Hills. We are will­ing to wait for the next right move.


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