Joska Easterbrook had all but free rein when devising a new space for Roots Restaurant.
The vibrant port town of Lyttelton is known for its spirited community, fantastic farmers’ market and laid-back lifestyle – and now its claims to fame also include being the home of one of New Zealand’s top dining spots, Roots Restaurant.
Roots’ owners Christy and Giulio Sturla arrived in late 2010 and set about fulfilling their dream of opening an eatery with a seasonal dégustation menu celebrating local ingredients and small producers. After operating for a few years as a petite 25-seat joint, the opportunity came up to expand into the building next door. In the spirit of keeping things local, the couple engaged fellow Lyttelton resident Joska Easterbrook of Joska & Sons to assist with the fit-out of a new bar area to adjoin the restaurant.
Rather than designing a spot to rock up to for a pint and bar snacks, the aim was to extend the fine-dining experience. “It used to be that people would arrive at their tables and launch straight into the dégustation. It felt like it lacked an introduction, so the plan was to create a preamble to the main event,” says Joska.
With his background as a lighting and furniture designer, Joska brought a sense of the handcrafted to the scene. The result is a humble yet sophisticated space, somewhere dark and intimate with a modern lodge-like atmosphere. “Giulio and Christy gave me a fairly open brief and left me to it while they were travelling back home to Chile,” he says. “It’s great working with clients who give you the flexibility to inject your ethos into a project.”
Words Alice Lines
Photography Charlotte Clements