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23 Nov 2018

My Melbourne: Deon St.Mor

What do design, cosmetics and dumplings have in common? Deon St.Mor — the man behind Drumplings, MOR Cosmetics and D1 homewares — says there’s a lot, actually.

You’ve had a very interesting career so far, that spans a number of industries. Tell us about it.

I’ve had a very interesting, colourful and broad career. It all kicked off when I decided to study industrial design at RMIT University, which allowed me to design across many industries. My first brand was a multidisciplinary design practice, incorporating fashion, graphic design and interior design. After the consultancy, I launched my first homewares brand D1, then my beauty brand MOR Cosmetics. I’m currently exploring the hospitality industry.

How did MOR Cosmetics begin?

MOR was born out of the homewares brand, D1. D1 produced beautiful homewares including cushions, vases and lamps. When a customer would come in to buy a lamp, I noticed that they didn’t need to come back to buy another. Here is where I realised there was a place for MOR. I started to introduce scented candles into our homewares range and I noticed our customers would buy them and come back for more. So there was the initial idea. Then I started to toy with other bath and body products like soaps and hand creams.

How did this lead to your dumpling house, Drumplings?

Drumplings is an unconventional dumpling diner that challenges norms. We offer dumplings in curious flavours such as cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, truffle mushroom and more. It came about as I have always been curious about products that connect consumers emotionally through design. Building a dumpling speaks to this. Adding each ingredient in a dumpling is similar to building a cosmetics product. Whether it’s cosmetics, homewares or a dumpling, they all have to be designed from the inside to the outside. Dumplings have different exterior shapes which are really interesting, then its inside consists of various ingredients. I appreciate the art, development, design, time and effort of building a product. This is the idea behind all of my creations.

From the outside, cosmetics and dumpling restaurants are quite different areas to be involved in. What do you love most about each of your businesses?

Yes, from the outside, they are quite dramatically different but in saying that, from the inside, they are very similar. I look at each product, whether it’s a can of beer or a bottle of body wash — or a dumpling. They all have to be designed from the inside to the outside. Each of them has its own element of attractiveness that appeals to a person's senses: taste, smell, touch and so forth. In relation to what I love most about each brand, it’s quite simple. I love the incredible amount of connectivity and feedback I get from customers, consumers and fans. The love that I have received from each brand — whether I make an amazing vase, hand cream or dumpling — is astonishing, I've always been lucky enough for people to give me honest feedback about the things I’ve designed and built. It’s amazing to see positive comments on social media and it motivates me to create and design more beautiful products.

What is your favourite dumpling flavour you’ve created?

I love each dumpling for its own simple characteristics. For example, the truffle mushroom is aromatic and has a beautiful texture. I really like the cheeseburger because of how much it tastes like a cheeseburger; it’s become our most famous dumpling. But if I had to pick, today my favourite is the mac and cheese dumpling.

Amongst the competition of Melbourne’s dining scene, why should visitors check out Drumplings?

Drumplings is a unique and modern dumpling diner that offers a twist on a traditional classic. We love the old school dumpling houses, but we wanted to turn tradition on its head and give it a fresh edge. Visitors should check out Drumplings because it’s one of Melbourne’s culinary surprises. Dumplings will always be an old favourite but here at Drumplings, we’re pushing sensory boundaries, questioning your imagination and changing your perceptions of the humble dumpling forever.

Outside of your businesses, what do you like to do in your down time?

I have a beautiful rooftop garden in the city that I enjoy tinkering around in when I have free time. I also walk the Yarra River a lot with my dogs. If I had more free time on my hands, I’d travel to more unique and remote places.

We understand that you grew up in Queensland and now live in Melbourne. Have you lived anywhere else?

I grew up in Far North Queensland which is extremely humid, hot and tropical and then I moved to Bright, which is a ski resort town surrounded by Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo. I moved to the hustle and bustle of the Melbourne CBD to start university. I have loved experiencing the extremes in the three places that I’ve lived in.

What do you love most about Melbourne?

The thing that I love most about Melbourne is its broadness in terms of cultures, cuisines and its hidden gems. I think Melbourne is beautiful and unique. I also love how it’s an easy city to live in — uncomplicated, clean and calm.

If you had a visitor in town, where would you take them?

When I have visitors in Melbourne, I take them to Cookie or The Waiters restaurant for food. I would also take a walk with them around the Yarra River through Kings Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens. For something more adventurous, I would go to Red Hill and the surrounding vineyards.

Deon’s Melbourne Picks

Restaurant Cookie for its incredible Thai cuisine and The Waiters Restaurant for its charming institutional history.

Hidden Gem The Croft Institute — it's an adventure to find.

Attraction MPavilion, because it changes every year and each time a new architect builds an incredible structure.

Bar I’m going through a margarita phase at the moment and I love the ones they serve at Mesa Verde.

Nature Spot A few little hidden gems within the Royal Botanic Gardens — wander in and explore!

Place to Indulge Any Cellar Door at a Vineyard. I’m a lover of red wine!

Event White Night because of the attention to detail throughout the event and in the projections.

Place to Shop Sneakerboy — I have a lot of love for sneakers and high-tops.