Studio Plenty wins the Commercial Project 2023

As a thoughtful revamp of the venue’s former self, this latest incarnation is a den of tone and tactility and the foundation for a very pleasing hospitality experience.

Thriving under hushed lighting, the resulting space is a dilation and complete refresh of its former self, maintaining Light Years’s signature glee while ripening to take on a distinctly sophisticated flavour. A Byron Bay local since 2017, the restaurant is the beloved original of Light Years’s family of eateries that also span Burleigh Heads, Noosa and Newcastle. Splashed with their own vibrant personality, the interior expression of each venue is intimately tied to its setting, with Light Years Byron Bay being no exception.

Met with a brief to house and preserve the diner’s playful energy within a refined spatial profile, Studio Plenty has tactfully formed an ode to the region that perfectly embodies the beach town’s grounded ease and contemporary cool.

An assured palette of rust and blushed peach bleeds into every corner of the eatery, ushering diners to melt among its mellow interior. Sliced into the textured walls are a series of hefty archways that at once segment and conjugate the gathering of cosy dining quarters, private banquet spaces and a striking curved countertop that anchors Light Years’s central heart. Pearls of light poke expectantly at the bar’s speckled surface, lusciously illuminating the list of unique cocktails waiting to be tasted while bartenders slide glasses across the creamy terrazzo slab. Blithe pinstripes, along with grout outlined tile, whimsical art and honeyed timber, emphatically garnish the space, harmonising effortlessly in a display of material mastery.

Sewn together by tonal cohesion and completed with furniture that has been considerately designed by SARAH ELLISON., Light Years’s potent interior identity courses with charismatic charm. Aptly reinforced with the presence of gentle curves and bold lines, each furniture piece has been fashioned to elevate the space while simultaneously communicating laid-back comfort. This nonchalance is mirrored in exposed overhead ducts and the ceiling’s roughened checked surface.

When open for the service of brimming share plates and trademark tipples, Light Years is heartily filled by the hum of clinking dishes and chirpy conversation. Nevertheless, even when the pass is cleared and doors are closed, the Byron Bay eatery remains imbued with a palpably animated spirit, thanks to the discerning eye of its designers. An exuberant reimagining, Light Years Asian Bar and Diner exists as the proud centrepiece of the brand’s lively presence, upholding blissful character in a heightened metamorphosis.

Light Years Asian Bar and Diner by Studio Plenty was winner of the Commercial Project 2023. Entries for the 2024 The (Emerging) Designer Awards are now open. Enter here

Words by Jasmine Ashkar for The Local Project
Photography by Jessie Prince