Photo by Drumplings
By Tehya Nicholas
In the same way an engineer builds a car, Deon St.Mor builds dumplings.
With a diverse and colourful background in industrial design, Deon St.Mor has founded a couple of interesting brands. First, a multidisciplinary design practice incorporating fashion, graphic design and interior design. Then a homewares brand called D1, followed swiftly by a beauty brand MOR Cosmetics. Hearing these, you’d be forgiven for not suspecting the multidisciplinary maker to launch himself into dumplings. But for St.Mor (an Italian no less) the principles behind crafting dumplings are the same as creating a cosmetic.
“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,” he explains.
From the inside, out, he boggles over each building block, obsessed with creating a joyful, human experience. And indeed, there are fewer foods out there that spark joy as much as the humble dumpling does. Traditionally a South East Asian dish created with Asian ingredients like napa cabbage, bok choy, bamboo shoots and shiitake mushroom, St.Mor honours the dumpling form, while flipping convention on its head.
Flavours like cheeseburger, mac & cheese, butter chicken, truffle mushroom and more feature on the brand’s impressive roster, with St.Mor spearheading an ever-growing list of curious, delicious concoctions.
“I have always been curious about products that connect consumers emotionally through design,” he says. “When we are conceptualising a flavour, we look at cultures, food groups, dishes globally and then we build them into dumplings… Literally any dish on the planet can be built into a dumpling.”
This zeal for dumpling-ingenuity has made Drumplings something of a cult brand and therefore a tricky one to compete with. When the flagship restaurant closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, they switched to creating frozen dumpling packs for take-home use. Now they can’t launch a new dumpling flavour without going viral on social media.
Challenging norms isn’t something St.Mor tries to do, it’s just a part of his modus operandi. These days, as the brand continues its stratospheric rise to fame, he is developing a range in collaboration with the Federal Government through an R&D Grant to produce yet another world first: dumplings filled with indigenous ingredients. Think Veal, Mountain Pepperberry with Wild Mushroom and Pork, Wild Ginger with Mountain Pepper Leaf, which St.Mor takes particular pride in.
“Ninety nine percent of traditional dumplings are made in South East Asia and what we love and are so proud of, is that we produce and build Australian made dumplings with Australian ingredients.”
All of this invention is great for customers and great for business, but for St.Mor it’s a mission to design something genuinely life enriching. “It allows us to push the boundaries of a dish and build it into a little parcel of joy.”
Explore Drumplings online Co-lab Pantry.