Umaluma

The word “Umaluma” doesn’t mean anything. The name of the Italian-style, plant-based gelato shop in Vancouver’s Chinatown is born out of nothing more than the joy of its enunciation.

The namesake’s cheeky irreverence is paired with an earnest mission to source the best ingredients from around the world. Building around that dichotomy, the interior is a swath of references—Brazilian modernism, Venice Beach, 1980 kitsch—that come together to animate the joyful experience of eating gelato.

The textural tones, likewise in gelato, are imperative to the space. Thick, nubbly upholstery is used throughout, and passé materials like marmoleum and California Knockdown plaster get their due justice. Rounded edges throughout the space mimic the softness of a scoop, melting creamy booths into their toasty brown tables.

Mixing high and low materials with global references, the space is unique in its origins. Umaluma is a cheerful part from reality–a fictional world where brand new flavours can be savoured, unperturbed by the ordinary.