Koskela receives a commission from Noma

The story of how we came to work with the world’s best restaurant.

In July 2015 the restaurant Noma, which is frequently described as the world’s best, announced it was coming for a 10-week pop up in Sydney. 

Everyone was very excited. Even if you missed out on tickets (which sold out in five minutes) there was an intense amount of curiosity surrounding what René Redzepi and his team would do with Australia’s diverse produce. At Koskela, we were also understandably interested in the design of the waterfront venue at Barangaroo.

Foolscap was hired for the fit out. Redzepi’s brief was for something ‘uniquely Australian’ that reflected Noma’s plan to source ingredients from the wilderness. They designed an interior that focused on natural materials in their raw state to conjure up our ancient and elemental landscape. 

Then one day Koskela received a phone call. Based on what we’d created with Yuta Badayala, Noma wanted to commission us to create a unique art piece with Australian Indigenous artists that would take pride of place in the pop up restaurant. ‘Ahh, yep sounds good!’ was our immediate answer and we got straight to work.

The finalised sculpture (above) and early concepts (below).

Launched in 2009, the Yuta Badayala collaboration with the traditional Yolngu weavers from Elcho Island Arts is an ongoing success story. Elcho is a remote community on an island in far north east Arnhem Land. At Koskela in Sydney we devised the concept for a three-dimensional wall sculpture and constructed the frame.

Seven Indigenous women wove a panel each. They were Mavis Warrngilna Ganambarr, Judy Manany, Margaret Dhorrpuy, Ruth Lulwarriwuy, Megan Djuramalwuy Yunupingu and  Helen Gatjikin. 

Yolngu weavers prepare the Pandanus for weaving (below).

Sadly during production a death in the Yolngu community led to a month of mourning and the suspension of weaving. The piece was not finished in time for the Sydney pop-up restaurant, but the Noma team did take it home as a souvenir. 

We had not heard anything since the sculpture left our shores in April 2016, and then, almost two years later, we were happy to discover it had finally been hung in its new home! It looks incredible hanging on the wall of the staff canteen in the new Noma restaurant in Copenhagen.

A happy ending for an amazing artwork. We are over the moon that the colours, textures and scents of the Yolngu country can be experienced on the other side of the world in such an incredible establishment!