Best designed venues in Australia revealed

14 November, 2019 by
Madeline Woolway

What do a small town bar inspired by a 1970s Californian dreamscape and an inner city restaurant that embraces a striking minimalism have in common? They’re both at the cutting edge of venue design in Australia.

The 2019 Eat Drink Design Awards have revealed the country’s best designed venues across categories including: Best Restaurant Design; Best Cafe Design; Best Bar Design; Best Hotel Design; Best Installation Design; Best Retail Design; Best Identity Design; and Hall of Fame.

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“…this year’s winners are very geographically diverse, indicating that in Australia, good design transcends location,” says Cassie Hansen, editor of Artichoke magazine and jury chair. “It’s something that has permeated out to our suburbs and our regional areas, which should be applauded.”

This year’s jurors included Besha Rodell (restaurant critic, New York Times), Nathan Toleman (CEO and founder, The Mulberry Group), Graham Charbonneau (architect and co-founder, Studio-Gram), Phillip Schemnitz (architect, Phillip Schemnitz Architects) and Cassie Hansen (editor, Artichoke).

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Best Restaurant Design — Di Stasio Citta by HASSELL (Melbourne, VIC)

Located on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD, Di Stasio Citta nabbed the award for Best Restaurant Design thanks to its futuristic fitout — according to the jury its restrained aesthetic will be impossible to replicate. There’s no exterior signage, no switches, power points or control panels on the blank stucco walls, no sign of working areas at the bar, and speakers are integrated into the window frames. What’s not seen is prioritised, with the focus on guest experience.

Best Bar Design — Blacksmith Lake Mulwala by The Stella Collective (Mulwala, NSW)

Restraint was also the name of the game for this bar in a small NSW town. An overarching dedication to simplicity, with an elegant palette and materials mean pops of whimsy have greater effect, harkening back to 1970s Southern California without cliche. There’s a particularly pleasing consideration of Mulwala’s pre-existing mid-century buildings too. Beyond aesthetic, the space is clever: well-proportioned indoor/outdoor spaces are designed for flexibility, with multiple areas and configurations possible as well as room to expand as the business grows.

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Best Cafe Design — Via Porta by Studio Esteta (Mont Albert, VIC)

Bold choices might have been made in the design of east Melbourne’s Via Porta, but none of them are at the expense of warmth. The cafe and deli in the suburb of Mont Albert evokes Italy’s narrow alleyways; stone offcuts pave the floor, setting the tone for an earth-hued palette. Uncommon materials in contemporary interior design give an edge. A large communal table is made with thick glass for example. Interactions with the space are encouraged through the flow from dining room to retail area to counter — all things combine to create an inviting venue.

Hall of Fame — Cumulus Inc by Pascale Gomes-McNabb (Melbourne, VIC)

Timelssness and resilience define Cumulus Inc.’s stamp on Melbourne’s hospitality scene. Andrew McConnell’s much-loved Flinder’s Lane restaurant was inducted into the Eat Drink Design Awards Hall of Fame in recognition of its longevity and cultural significance.

This year’s jurors included Besha Rodell (restaurant critic, New York Times), Nathan Toleman (CEO and founder, The Mulberry Group), Graham Charbonneau (architect and co-founder, Studio-Gram), Phillip Schemnitz (architect, Phillip Schemnitz Architects) and Cassie Hansen (editor, Artichoke).

Full details of Eat Drink Design Awards are available at here and will be published in the December issue of Artichoke.