Navigating a site that had everything going against it as far as
Effectively, this meant potential patrons needed to ascend stairs to a site they couldn’t see until they were already in reception: “It’s quite hard to get people to walk upstairs with the fear that, if it’s not the right place for you, you have got to turn around and walk back down again in front of everybody, that’s a scary thing for humans,” says Greg Lamb, principal of Hogg & Lamb. “Food and Beverage places live and die by those first couple of steps in the front door.”
As such, the whole restaurant has been designed for maximum street legibility, with the patrons neatly concealed within. The main bar, for example, has been laid out across the back wall with three large semicircular mirrors reflecting back through the space. Effectively this gives the whole a focal point – “something to walk towards, and you can tell there’s a bar,” as Lamb explains. Previously, patrons had to walk into the restaurant and around a corner before knowing what was on offer.
Wanting the bar to be visible both day and night, the glass of the semicircular mirrors undergoes a sequence of changes as the day progresses, from subtly intriguing to a solid glow. “We wanted them to be visible at all times, but it’s hard to get light visible on a sunny Queensland day. So, the glass is actually a fine frit pattern on mirror,” says Lamb.
With similarities to a printed fabric, the back-lit mirrors transition from the interestingly surfaced mirror reflecting the day to a half-and-half period when night starts to fall, and on to a fully back-lit screen during the evening. What is does all the time, however, is display the interior to the external world allowing potential patrons to see the restaurant before entering.
The division between entry and restaurant has also been minimised with a small waiter’s station off to the side that becomes continuous to the whole. “You’re not walking up to a formal reception, but someone can make eye contact with you and bring you up the stairs and make sure that you’re okay to walk in,” says Lamb.
Separated into two parts, an undercover external room and in internal area, the division in glass and unifying flooring allows both aspects to be seen as continuous, as Lamb explains: “We’re trying to play down the line of enclosure, and instead replace it with these two rooms that float within the space.” When the glass doors are drawn back, the rooms become one with only slight furnishing shifts demarcating space.
For the external room, the mood is relaxed Queensland with white tablecloths, cane chairs and large and soft floral cushions. These continue to the inside where the combination of a timber bulkhead and sculpted booths lend the whole a slight nautical tone: “There’s a very subtle nod to boat-building. We didn’t ever use the word nautical, but the idea was that if you knew how to build boats, and then you built a restaurant, that you might subconsciously replicate some of those details,” says Lamb.
These elements are subtle and, as Lamb points out, more about detailing than motif. They might not register on a first visit. The caulking joint between the timber of the tables, for example, is a decking detail from wooden sail boats. Similarly, the shifts in timber used for the booths is articulated at each turn, while visible dowel joints speak to the carpentry of handcrafted yachts. Moreover, the layout of the booths, similar to cockpit and cabins, creates areas for expanded groups and pockets of privacy including a booth for two – which, Lamb says, is where you want to be if going on a date.
The most internal wall of the restaurant adjacent the bar is fully mirrored to bring the light into the restaurant, but it also introduces an element of luxury. As Lamb explains, “The Queensland light is so bright that the artificial light can’t really compete with it. As you get further away from the view, even though it’s still quite bright, it’s comparatively feels dull.” Introducing the mirror brings a shift in material surface of polish, which transitions to the stainless-steel cladding the kitchen area and imbues the whole with a gentle glamour.
The female bathroom is singular joy of pale pink tile with no mirrors above the wash basins. Instead, the two side walls are fully mirrored so that an infinity reflection of people putting on their makeup or checking their outfits fills the room: “As you step up, you get that hall of mirrors effect for a split second. It’s just about creating that little moment of surprise, as you see this endless row of people.”
As always, Hogg & Lamb’s thinking process is writ large on the project outcome with a unique set of solutions. That their solutions are also appropriate to climate, clientele and hospitality offering is somewhat of a given, but they consistently deliver functional interiors that are beautifully resolved and always inviting.
Hogg & Lamb
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