Cibi: Head, Hands, Heart

Open and inviting, a non-pretentious converted warehouse.

If you’re interested in design, and live in Melbourne, there’s a good chance you’ve been to Cibi. I hadn’t, until last week. But now I’d like to go as often as I can, I’d move in if I could.

Cibi is a cafe with a design store attached. Owner Zenta Tanaka is an architect, and the cafe certainly reflects this. The cafe itself is a big open space with polished concrete floors and high ceilings, with an open kitchen. The space seems clean rather than over-accessorised. Industrial and vintage pieces, metal parts, weighing scales all perfectly placed. Silk screen hangings, and old Le Corbusier prints. There are lots of salvaged and op-shopped wood items as well. 

All in all, the decor might ordinarily make a place seem somewhat pretentious, but Cibi seems to get away with it, I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps because the owners and the staff are entirely unpretentious themselves. 

I had a traditional Japanese breakfast, which was excellent. The homemade miso is almost enigmatically yummy, I don’t know what they put in it, but its the most exciting miso I’ve had. Lots of bits in it. Tofu and seaweed and also other secret things. The grilled salmon was also perfect, and the coffee was alright. Unfortunately, the waitress managed to spill some hot tea on my lap as she brought me my pot of earl grey, but she was really very apologetic. And thankfully I was wearing jeans.

Cibi’s exhibition on Japanese utensils was a highlight for me- its temporary, but Cibi sells an assortment of things year round in their store. Everything oozes Japan-cool. I think their black cutlery has proven particularly lustworthy, as its been showing up in design shoots and restaurants all over town (Inside Out has used it, as does Andrew McConnell at Cutler & Co).  As described on their website, “KOBO AIZAWA BLACK cutlery: beauty as objects, functional as tools, sexier than your boyfriend”. Can’t say it better myself.

Black cutlery from Kobo Aizawa

I spent alot of time at breakfast thinking, “When I grow up and buy a house, this is what it needs to look like”. Basically, Cibi is a really great place to hang out. No one will rush me, I’ll have a bazillion design and architecture magazines to browse through, yummy food, and maybe some of the coolness of the space will rub off on me. One can only hope.

Matt Preston covered Cibi rather well, a while back. Read his review here

And my photos are above.


Cibi on Urbanspoon

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