With a brief for “a sophisticated yet relaxed” espresso bar, interior design team Mr. Mitchell set about breathing new life into the St Kilda Grocery Bar. With sound bones, the extent of the intervention was constrained by the necessity to work with the existing layout, appliances and electrical circuits. Thus a challenge for the designers was how to give the venue a fresh look while retaining its original incarnation.
The interior finishes were pared back to a minimal palette with a focus placed on mood and interesting textures. Warmth and character were introduced to the space with the use of imperfect and aged finishes, in particular the Brooklyn Tins wallpaper created in collaboration with Merci, Paris. This striking, digitally printed paper references the pressed metal ceilings typical of the Victorian architecture of St Kilda, and cleverly envelops the length of the café on both wall and ceiling.
A yellow neon sign placed on a black wall announces the new café to Fitzroy Street passing traffic, and is reminiscent of signage typified by classic European-style espresso bars such as Pelligrini’s in Melbourne. The black and yellow identity of the brand is carried subtly throughout the interior of the venue. A glamorous surprise for patrons is the sparkling powder room, resplendent in chrome plated pressed metal from floor to ceiling.
The existing bar and coffee station were enhanced with textured faux timber panels and rich Statuarietto Marble. Existing Australian hardwood tabletops were refreshed by stripping them back and rubbing with a black Scandinavian Oil. An eclectic mix of stools, banquette seating and different table heights provide visual interest and a variety of seating options for customers.
A large communal table by Tait, elegant Otto pendant lights by Volker Haug and yellow coat hooks by Zuster maintain strengthen GB Espresso Bar’s ‘Melbourne-ness’, exhibiting furniture and lighting by some of the city’s most talented and well-respected design brands.
GB Espresso Bar
Photography: Andrew Wuttke