Article by Geraldine Chua,  Architectural Design

“Signature dishes, perfectly pitched drinks and impeccable service are an integral part of the eating and drinking experience, but a venue’s interior is an equally important ingredient.” Eat Drink Design Awards

This quote encapsulates the restaurant, cafe and bar experience all customers and diners search for. But delivering the ideal design to create such an offering is easier said than done, especially when there is a wide variety of factors to juggle – what atmosphere are the owners hoping to achieve? What materials will help achieve the desired style? How can the team ensure basic regulations are met?

Here are five Australian restaurants, bars and cafes that marry food, service, atmosphere and design perfectly to deliver a great experience for their customers.

Industry Beans by Figureground Architecture


Industry Beans is a café and coffee roastery in Fitzroy, Victoria that transparently showcases its whole operation of sourcing, roasting and brewing specialty coffee. The architects took full advantage of the existing warehouse to transform an empty concrete shell into a warm, textured café with high ceilings and economic materials such as wooden pallets and plywood.

An external structure utilises pivoting panels to playfully moderate the external conditions, with 2014 Australian Interior Design Awards jury praising the project for its “quality of light in what could have been a dark and dreary space”.

The project was recently recognised at the sixth annual UK and International Restaurant and Bar Design Awards as the best café in the UK and International category.

Photography: Sean Fennessy & Luke Brice. Source: Figureground


Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant by Pascale Gomes-Mcnabb


Composition, colour and lighting come into play for Penfolds’ flagship Magill Estate restaurant in South Australia. The architects were invited to reinvent the space – a modernist glass pavilion, utilising Australian materials and products to combine Penfolds’ history and the oenological notion of terroir.

Taking home a Hospitality Design prize at the 2014 Australian Interior Design Awards, the project features tailored shapes and forms, as well as unique curtains, custom furniture and glass lighting to create a relaxed yet elegant bespoke dining environment. The spatial planning redefines traditional seating, while the role of service and staff are clearly understood.

“Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant is an immense environment that wholly engages the occupant – a luscious interior for any visitor to be seduced by,” the jury noted.

Photography: Murray Fredericks. Source: Australian Interior Design Awards

Rozzi’s Italian Canteen by Mim Design


Celebrating Italian style food in a friendly home-style kitchen environment that would make Nonna proud, Rozzi’s interiors reflect its menu as well as the authentic products used throughout. It was also important that the customers took ownership of this Highpoint, Victoria, space, making it their own by essentially ‘living’ in it.

Custom concrete tiles sit beside timber floors, while the bar is wrapped in Atlantic blue granite, making it the stand out piece in a sea of white glazed bricks and black joinery. Custom-designed pendants, shaped from original Italian wine carafes and oil bottles, front the opening of the venue.

Plastered boldly on the façade wall is a quote that describes the fitout and sums up the Rozzi’s experience: “If you do not feed the dog, the dog goes in search of food next door”.

Photography: Shannon McGrath. Source: Mim Design


Eightysix by Capezio Copeland

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Working with local artists and industrial designers, Capezio Copeland has delivered a 170sqm restaurant and bar in the “suddenly trendy” Braddon precinct, ACT.

Nestled amongst vintage clothing and recycled goods, Eightysix is where raw meets refined. The design is inspired by contemporary Australian residential architecture; familiar, and easy to understand and navigate.

Photography: Stella Rae Zelnik. Source: Capezio Copeland


The Collins at The Hilton by Woods Bagot


The tailored suit will feel right at home at Adelaide’s relatively new signature cocktail bar, The Collins. After all, the place is inspired by the classic form of a suit, with the interiors presenting a fresh, modern and urban chic approach to the traditional, stuffy hotel bar.

Lift-up glazed doors open the bar to the street and welcome passing patrons. According to Woods Bagot, the space is divided into two distinct areas: a bright daytime venue or front bar that is charged with theatrics, and a secluded cocktail lounge room that can be ‘made exclusive’ for private functions.

A blend of precious materials such as brass and marble contrast with wire brushed, stained timber and saddle leather, all of which will age and wear beautifully over time. Metallic blades pattern the ceiling, providing a focal point as a combined bespoke art piece and lighting element.

Photography: Woods Bagot