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Keystone Canteen at MBFWA Sydney

Habitus Deputy Editor, Nicky Lobo dropped in to the pop-up canteen last week and found much more than an eatery.

In previous years, upstairs at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay West was a transient space. Either filled with snaking lines of attendees to shows or completely empty, its function was secondary to the fashion.

The Keystone Canteen makes it a destination. Completely changing the dynamic, this food/beverage service area also provided rare opportunity to sit down at the event – surely appreciated by heel-wearing fashionistas.

“We wanted to create an oasis,” says Paul Schulte, Creative Director of Keystone. “It was about larger tables so people could sit around, chat, talk.” And they were, sharing a bite to eat or a casual drink, some with laptops.

The look was tropical – “all our venues are quite earthy” says Paul – with low, comfortable Coco Republic lounges and stools in natural finishes, longer communal tables, rugs, trees and plants. Positioned along the eastern side of the terminal looking across to the opera house created a cool, casual calm environment – a welcome contrast to the hectic nature of the shows.

As well as the Canteen, Keystone was also responsible for catering for “functions, staff packages, Star Bar, external events, international delegates,” Paul counts. Which equals about 21,000 canapes for the week.

Adept at creating hospitality venues that work (other Keystone successes include Gazebo, The Winery and the Keystone Festival Bar at Sydney Festival 2012), the Canteen was no exception. “We spend a lot of time when we’re designing our venues thinking about how the different areas get used, flow of traffic,” Paul explains.

In terms of design – “We like to make sure people have an experience, it’s not just about eating and drinking, it’s about the visual – all your senses are stimulated.” It’s this whole package – food, drink, music and design – that Sydney clearly loves.

Keep an eye out for more pop-up and standalone venues by Keystone launching this year.


Keystone Group

Coco Republic

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia