This week was fun.
I flew to Sydney to attend the annual design trade fair, where I am able to source new furniture and homeware accessories for our current design and interior projects at White Chalk Design. (http://www.whitechalkdesign.com.au)
It is always a productive few days and there is nothing better better than sourcing new products for clients as they are being released hot off the press.
But…what I enjoy more, is finding inspiration out of the design fairs. Out and about. Researching and staying in new hotels. Checking out the latest bars and pubs. Sampling what I can from the real world and determining whether elements can be utilised in our projects.
Primus Hotel Sydney : (http://www.primushotelsydney.com)
Art Deco Glamour.
Recently launched and located right in the heart of Sydney at 339 Pitt Street, this brand new, seriously stunning hotel, housed the Sydney Water Board’s offices from the building’s construction in 1939 until 2009. The former Sydney Water Rating Chamber, once a bustling office space, is now the hotel’s lobby, a grand room with cathedral-like dimensions. Eight spectacular red scagliola columns, each eight metres tall, surround a large, beautifully restored skylight.
It is truly stunning. The old world vibe mixes beautifully with the original restoration and the new design elements. The ground floor used to house the 30 or so secretary offices partitioned by frosted glass, and a bustling work place. You can literally close your eyes and be instantly transported to the chic 1930s. Glamorous women in pencil skirts, high heels and cigarette holders, typing on manual typewriters, whilst the male boss barks orders in a charcoal suit and hat. I swear I heard them echoing around the walls!
As and to the old, the designers have kept the old drinking bubblers on the walls for authenticity. Ceramic bowls with rust anchored on geometric wall paper walls. Classic old meets new. (the bubblers are for show only)
Also occupying the ground floor is the lobby bar and the Wilmot, a high-end restaurant serving contemporary Asian cuisine. The design and vast material selection is mix of Art Deco, Hollywood Regency and New York 5Th Avenue. It soothes the senses and is indeed aimed at the highest 5 star market.
There is also a roof top deck with pool and bar which is very calming and much needed in the hustle of the busy Sydney CBD. The perfect spot to sip on a refreshing Whisky Sour and unwind.
Even the bathrooms are fancy. I mean seriously, what is not to love here?? Limestone, marble, gold, black, white…Tick. Tick. Tick. Heaven. Thank you Primus Hotel.
Bondi Icerbergs: (http://icebergs.com.au)
A slight change in pace, after walking most of the day through the design fair at Homebush, we headed down to the famous Bondi Beach and on to Bondi Icebergs for lunch. The sun was shining, the beautiful people were lounging around the pools and the almost famous celebrities were eating lunch in the main restaurant. If you’re visiting Bondi, you can visit the surf club section for a bite to eat, the main Icebergs Bistro or Terrace Bar for a fancy lunch or dinner, or simply pay $6 and laze in the historic ocean sea bath. The choice is yours and any option is a winner.
The atmosphere here is pretty chilled. The view and ocean is the key player, so it is very cathartic to just sit and sip a chilled Rose and enjoy the ambience. So thats what we did. Until dusk.
Coogee Pavilion: (http://merivale.com.au/coogeepavilion)
Deciding to stay beachside, I was keen to explore the latest quirky hotel fitout by the Merivale group and Justin Hemmes. Famous for Sydney bars such as The Ivy, The Establishment, Hemmesphere…to name just a few from this ever growing empire.
This Hotel is located right on the beach at Coogee. It has 180* views of the ocean. It is amazing. 3 floors and a roof top bar, this pub is probably the quirkiest of all the Hemmes thus far.
You wander through the rooms and can feast your eyes on hundreds of vignettes set around the 3 floors. I can’t even begin to imagine where they source these items from, but this is what certainly adds the eccentric character to this beachside pub. Its a focal and talking point. Especially if your table has critters under glass looking at you.
The roof top bar was my favourite. Sitting upstairs, with the ocean summer breeze, cocktail in hand, it felt very Bahamas mixed with Maui, and a sprinkle of Out Of Africa thrown in for good measure. Apparently the design brief for the roof top bar was based on a fictional character… an eccentric botanist in his conservatory. That works!
The Rooftop houses four indoor and outdoor bars each with its own exotic flair.
Walk the famous beachside track from Bondi to Coogee and then you have no excuse to indulge at the Coogee Pavillion. Life’s a balance after all.
Hotel Palisade: (http://hotelpalisade.com)
Switching gear on Day 2 (not really..another bar) and I was determined to find the latest roof top bar Henry Deane, at The Palisade Hotel in Millers Point. I had seen images of it on Instagram and wanted to see it for myself.
I should point out, my 20 year old daughter accompanied me on this ‘work trip’ and was quite surprised (aka pleased) to hunt out bars and hotels, rather than the more traditional mother /daughter get away of shopping and mani / pedis.
So, this stunning 100 year old building, sits alone and is now a multi-level boutique pub/cocktail bar/hotel. It was once an overnight nap-and-grog stop for Anzacs and “wharfs”. A newly built rooftop cocktail bar, above the pub, pays homage to the Australian engineer-architect who designed the building, Henry Deane.
The cocktail bar, which sits over two levels – the top floor and rooftop of the original hotel is very fresh and light. It’s complete with pink-leather sofas, copper furnishings, double-hung windows and marble everywhere.
Separate to the Henry Deane bar, there are nine boutique hotel rooms opened in December and each named after an Anzac. Half have views over Barangaroo and the waterfront. The other half look out over Millers Point towards the bridge. It is quite small upstairs, cosy in fact… but this just adds to feeling of being in the right place. And that view!
Downstairs is more black and white and geometric, with wall panels and custom papers plus exotic leathers and masculine sofas. The ground floor is a typical old school pub. We actually thought we may have been at the wrong spot when we got there. Its very understated. But very busy.
As a designer it is so refreshing to see a shift away from the cold retro, prohibition style bar design that seems to be everywhere at the moment.
Every new bar these days seems to have red exposed brick, copper exposed bulbs, no soul and is bare, boring… and on every corner.
Let it go people. It’s time.
Lets do more Detail. More Design. More Accessories. More Products. More Glamour.
Thank you Sydney for the inspiration and being a perfect host.