It seems that meticulous attention to detail and playing with light are the two things that marked this year’s Australian Interior Design Awards. This is one of Australia’s premier design events, celebrating its 11th birthday this year. The competition was especially fierce in the Hospitality Design category.
Commendations were given to Melbourne’s Chinese spot Ruyi, and Canberra’s sleek bakery bar A. Baker. Some of the other 31 shortlisted competitors included Woolloomooloo’s Riley Street Garage, Surry Hills’ Single Origin Roasters, Brunswick warehouse venue Howler, the rustic Manly spot, Donny’s Bar, Prahran’s Japanese gem Mr. Miyagi, and the new Sydney CBD Chapter of The Local Bar. With more than 400 projects entered, this year’s event was 11% larger than last year’s. Here we’ll focus on the design ideas behind some of Sydney’s best restaurants.
Part café, part bar, part restaurant
It seems that hustle never ends at Chippendale’s Sneaky Possum. Apart from being three venues in one, it also features a multipurpose area upstairs. One could say that joints on Abercrombie Street defy easy categorization – even the owner, Phil Anderson isn’t sure what to call the place. Perhaps the best word to describe it is ‘gastrobar’. In any case, this corner venue is easily identified by a pair of distinctive murals on the outside. One depicts the former lead singer of The Sapphires, Naomi Mayers, and the other celebrates Sydney’s ibis population. Sneaky Possum is split into a number of different sections; a large, well-lit front bar leads into a room reserved for pinball machines and retro arcade games, while out back is a casual dining area with custom-built wooden booths.
No detail spared
For almost two years, people behind The Grounds of Alexandria have been spreading rumors of a new CBD locale. Finally, The Grounds of the City has nestled inside the Galleries on George Street. Apart from The Grounds team, the design studio Acme & Co. gave their best to create a ‘no detail spared’ atmosphere, whether it’s about antique pendant lighting, up-cycled timber floor, marble details, hand-crafted stained glass windows or custom-made enamel fridge doors. The new venue draws inspiration from traditional coffeehouse culture, hoping to bring socializing back to the bustle of city life.
The patrons of the ‘50s-inspired bar, Hinky Dinks were shocked when their favorite cocktail-bound venue on Darlinghurst Road closed its door late last year. However, the spot has already been filled – with a fresh brew of high-level Sydney hospitality. The team behind Buffalo Dining Club already made it feel like home, as they changed the name on the wooden door sign and embossed it with shimmering gold. The chequered floor has been replaced with tiling, while the red features were removed in favor of deep greens and timber. Now a long marble-topped wooden bar is the centerpiece. A solid wine wall is another prominent feature that can also help you choose the perfect vintage to go with your steak.
Flavors of south
With the refurbished Old Clare Hotel as the anchor, the Kensington Street precinct has no shortage of hospitality operators and cuisines. Whether you are taking out the in-laws or just looking for some nice homemade pasta, you can never go wrong with Olio. Boasting its Sicilian-born chef, Lino Sauro, and a large open kitchen, this restaurant brings big arched windows and bare brick walls of the chef’s homeland into the center of Sydney. Olio also offers a unique alfresco dining option atop a private rooftop terrace protected by commercial shade sails. The terrace is perfect for special events as it can accommodate more than 40 people and overlooks the busy Kensington Street.
Sydney’s top-notch restaurants are a perfect example of how the uniqueness of the design can be achieved in so many different ways. Apart from traditional cuisine, wine cards, and unmatched hospitality, with the social networks we have today and people sharing their experiences as they go, interior design elements are more important than ever.