Old Meets New Down Under

Upscale design in a suburban Melbourne restaurant helps preserve the past

The bayside neighborhood of Elwood in Melbourne, Australia, has experienced plenty of change in recent years. Due to its status as an affluent, young-family area that’s continually growing in population, a number of its art deco, Victorian and Edwardian buildings are undergoing renovations, as developers strive to maintain the suburb’s original architecture.

So when Melbourne-based creative design consultancy Biasol: Design Studio set out to create an understated, urban feel for a new restaurant and bar dubbed The Milton in one of the area’s oldest buildings, its process proved no exception.

“It was particularly important to incorporate the original façade as a nod to the architectural language of the area. [We were] taking people on a journey from past to present, something the locals felt familiar with.”

– Jean-Pierre Biasol, the studio’s principal

In addition to retaining the building’s exterior aesthetic, the design crew reinforced the structure and preserved its internal red brick, which enabled the team to remove the building’s interior walls for an open, streamlined space. A modern exterior addition, clad from top to bottom in Victorian Ash, is coated in varying stains to “wrap the area in a kaleidoscope of shadows and natural light,” explains Biasol. It follows the existing roofline, and was designed without the need for any structural collar bracings in the ceiling. The result is a cozy, 2000-plus-square-foot eatery that brings the outdoors in.

Reclaimed Australian timber was paired with brass- and black-colored steel to create a mix of old and new. To balance material textures, hard surfaces were paired with gentle textiles – for example, industrial metal barstools, softened by green leather cushions. The front of the main bar was embellished with custom charcoal, white and gray triangular tiles for a bold geometric accent.

Biasol and his team designed simple, low-hanging pendants and wall lights with rustic Edison bulbs, adding to the intimate and moody motif. Warm light extends through the enclosed area, where an open fire, lounges and cascading greenery creates a “relaxed and effortlessly sophisticated haven,” he says.

– Article by Lauren Mang, VMSD.com

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