Claire Bennett

The Claire Bennett Agency



Tasmanian Blackwood heats things up at London Restaurant, Mama Fuego

Mama Fuego is a 700sqm restaurant outside of London’s North Greenwich Pier. With a playful nod to the 60’s and 70’s throughout the interior’s luxe fit–out, the theme of the restaurant is brought to life through the use of the warm tones utilizing 50 cubic meters of sustainably sourced Tasmanian Blackwood found throughout the space.

Blackwood central to restaurant design

Designed by de La Vega Architects who have been executing projects around Australia and across the globe, Mama Fuego is a culinary fusion of South American and Australian cuisine, making the restaurant’s main material choice of an Australian timber, a perfect fit. Crafted by Justin Macri and his team at their Sydney based facility Metric Joinery, the venue’s joinery, bar tops, kitchen, coffee counters, wine fridge, sunken lounge, tables, wall paneling, banquet seating, and feature zig–zag half wall, are all made from sustainably sourced Tasmanian Blackwood.

“It was the first time I had used Blackwood and the timber performed beautifully. I really enjoyed working with the Blackwood and the client loved how the few Blackwood elements were coming together so much that the amount of Blackwood specified tripled in size,” says Macri.

With modular construction, the Blackwood pieces came to life through a collaborative effort between the architects, de la Vega Architects and Metric Joinery, and were manufactured to be easily dismantled with knock–down connections and then shipped overseas where the pieces were assembled like a puzzle.

Using state of the art technology alongside traditional methods like wood turning to create 200mm diameter expertly designed and crafted table legs, each piece was hand finished with a Danish oil to show off the timber’s natural lustre and to achieve a pristine final product.

“We always employ the latest technology in all of our projects, but the finishing touches are done by hand. The workability of the Blackwood enabled us to achieve a great end result. Blackwood is a beautiful product,” says Macri.

Tasmanian timbers gaining international attention

As Tasmanian Blackwood remains a favourite amongst joiners, architects and furniture makers within Australia, the use of Tasmanian Timber in the international market has begun to take off. Shawn Britton, Managing Director of Britton Timbers, one of Australia’s leading timber suppliers, says they’ve noticed Tasmanian Blackwood has piqued the interest of architects and designers abroad.

“Over the past five years, we have seen a steady increase in demand for Tasmanian Blackwood from international clientele, primarily the USA, Japan, Korea and the UK. As Blackwood is so versatile for internal fit–out, joinery and furniture, we have found that some international customers involved in architecture and design are looking for something different to the standard American species that they have specified for years,” says Britton.

With the increase in demand for Tasmanian Blackwood, Britton explains that is readily available for domestic and international markets.

“Britton Timbers have been exporting small volumes of Tasmanian Blackwood for decades and while it is not available in huge volumes like some species, it is readily available – direct from Tasmania, in a range of solid timber of varying dimensions as well as decorative veneer and panel products,” says Britton.

The swamps of north–west Tasmania have been the primary source of high–quality Blackwood for more than a century. This resource has been the cornerstone of Tasmania’s fine furniture industry over that time and Britton shares he’s proud to see Tasmanian Timbers reaching the upscale international market.

“Having seen the completed project first hand in London, I can attest that the finished article is simply stunning and it certainly makes me proud to see our Tasmanian timber used in such a high profile project in London. There are not many species in the world as beautiful as Tasmanian Blackwood that you would have confidence shipping the finished article across the equator pre–fabbed ready to fit together on the other side of the globe,” says Britton