We are now officially the first restaurant in Australia to bring virtual reality (VR) into the fine dining experience. We won’t lie: this was an enormous logistical effort and working out us how exactly to incorporate VR into the enjoyment of a meal was a mind-warp. But with the help of IMG Culinary, Catalyst VR and the WeNeverSleep immersive dining team, we managed to pull this one off. Here’s how it went.
When chef-owner Shaun Quade and partners transformed a former burlesque club into Lûmé’s rule-bending restaurant, the aim was to deliver multi-sensory experiences in a playful space.
Now he’s set to introduce virtual reality tech into his particular brand of fine dining…
Taste and technology
An ambitious project, it’s no one-off gimmick, with Quade intending to bring the VR experience back to the South Melbourne mothership so Lûmé patrons can enjoy the trip again and again. He’s also looking at introducing robotics designed by visual artists into the dining room.
Lûmé’s business and communications manger Veronica Fil is the major tech-head, and the pair bounce all sorts of ideas off each other for what comes next.
“We have these conversations where I say, ‘I wish I could so do something like this,’ and she’s like, ‘well, yeah, that exists already.’ She’s kind of been the catalyst for using a lot of different things at the restaurant.”
The pair have a side business called WeNeverSleep that specialises in tech-driven, immersive events with impressive lighting and visual art components. They’re increasingly feeding that stuff back into Lûmé.
“We want people to come here and have fun, rather than it be a snobby restaurant where they feel like they can’t touch anything,” Quade says. “That allows us to relax people and then we can start messing with their head a bit. That’s pretty much where we are going and VR certainly fits in there.”