Former dry cleaners wins Australia’s best bar design

25 November, 2020 by Andy Young

The best hospitality designs have been celebrated as the winners of the 2020 Eat Drink Design Awards have been revealed.

Perhaps this year, more than any, it’s the best time to celebrate and recognise the spaces that bring us comfort, delight, a sense of place, community and communion. That’s what these awards aim to, by recognising excellence and innovation in the design of restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, temporary venues and retail spaces.

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Cassie Hansen, editor of Artichoke and Eat Drink Design Award jury chair, explained that this year’s winners evoked a sense of architectural nostalgia and a healthy sentimentality for the past.

“From a natural wine room in Adelaide, reminiscent of a classic European bar, to an Art Deco style-hotel exuding old-world elegance, this year’s award winners evoked a nostalgia for the past,” she said.

“Pining for the days when we could visit our favourite restaurants, cafes, and bars, the jury was drawn to venues with sentimentality and tradition at their core, but executed in a contemporary way. This year’s exemplary field of winners successfully remember and celebrate the times of the past, but forge a new future; one we can’t wait to explore.”

So what of Australia’s best bar design?

Bars and Clubs highlighted the nominees when they were revealed earlier this year, and this year the win went to Studio Gram for Leigh Street Wine Room in Adelaide, where they transformed a longstanding Adelaide city dry cleaner into a cosy drinking den, with a newly built mezzanine, terrazzo bar, exposed acoustic wall panelling, and a captivating archway.

The jury said of the design: “Everyone deserves a local bar like this one. With its timeless European style, Leigh Street Wine Room on Adelaide’s most happening eat street seems like it’s been around for years. Built on the site of a former dry-cleaning business (the original signage remains intact), the ultra-narrow footprint has been artfully overhauled by local firm Studio Gram on an impressively compact budget.

“The cosy room has an immediately welcoming vibe, and cocoons its customers with feelings of warmth and intimacy.

“A dazzling vaulted archway integrates a mezzanine level over the terrazzo bar serving intelligent drops and substantial snacks. A library of more than 400 bottles of minimal-intervention wine fills an entire wall, showcasing what this place does best. While the eclectic design scheme has been carefully curated, it never feels overworked. The result is an instant classic that demands to be visited again and again.”

The other winners include:

  • Best Restaurant Design – Osteria Tedesca, Mornington Peninsula
  • Best Cafe Design – There Cafe, Melbourne
  • Best Hotel Design – Tattersalls Hotel Armidale
  • Best Installation Design – Orana in Residence, Sydney
  • Best Retail Design – Darling Exchange Market Hall, Sydney
  • Best Identity Design – Dopa, Sydney
  • Hall of Fame – Vernon Chalker’s Gin Palace, Melbourne

The Eat Drink Design Award winners were selected by a panel of leaders from the hospitality and design industries. This year’s jurors included Frank Camorra (restaurateur, Movida ), Gemima Cody (restaurant critic and food writer, Good Food ), Iva Foschia (founder, IF Architecture ), Jonathan Richards (co-founder, Richards Stanisich ) and Cassie Hansen (editor, Artichoke ).

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