Over 130 new locations participate in the 2021 Eat Drink Design Awards
Owners of new restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels across the country have defied the misery of COVID-19 lockdowns and towering economic uncertainties to invest millions of dollars in their design and furnishings.
Completely unexpected result, the Eat Drink Design Awards 2021 registered an almost record number of admissions.
“We were really, really impressed and surprised,” said Cassie Hansen, president of the Australian and New Zealand Hospitality Awards jury, as the final list of finalists was announced. “Our biggest year of all time had 140 registrations, so this year we weren’t really expecting to hit 100.
“But instead we ended up with 131 entries, which is amazing when you think of the time we go through. It just goes to show how incredible, high caliber work is being done, even with tight budgets. The owners of these new places of reception are investing anyway and hope for the best when the pandemic subsides. You can’t hold them back!
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Among the shortcuts for the seven categories are a number of historic buildings that have been transformed, often at enormous cost and despite construction difficulties, into beautifully designed new pubs, bars and restaurants.
These finalists include Little Prince Wine and Prince Public Bar Melbourne in St Kilda, and Chancery Lane in CBD, as well as Sydney’s Hinchcliff House in The Rocks and Harbord Hotel in Freshwater, Emily Taylor at Warders Hotel in Fremantle and the Ponsonby Hotel in Auckland. .
Judge Sarah Cosentino, co-director of two-time award-winning interior design firm Studio Esteta, said she was also stunned by the number of attendees. “It’s a great lineup of very high caliber work that is so impressive, especially from Melbourne which has suffered so many blockages and restrictions.
“But I’m not surprised by the quality of the work. Australia and New Zealand are now truly renowned for the strength of their architecture and interior design, and it only seems to be improving. We see a wonderful design aesthetic, clean, no frills, and old buildings coming back to life in a modern context.
As the hospitality industry goes through a particularly difficult 18 month period, with an end in sight, the awards are seen as a great opportunity to celebrate some of the work being done in the space.
Little Prince Wine and Prince Public Bar, for example, is IF Architecture’s transformation of an 82-year-old building on Fitzroy Street that was once a guesthouse, hotel, music hotspot, rock ‘n’roll grungy and the gourmet restaurant Circa. It was then left empty and squatters moved in.
It is now a beautiful destination to eat and drink, paying homage to the region’s LGBTQI history, with special glass on the tables and an oil treatment on the table legs that reflect the rainbows. sky.
IF Architecture designer Iva Foschia said pandemic conditions made the project much more difficult. Little Prince Wine finally opened, completed, in April of last year for just a few hours before being closed by another lockdown.
“It’s just lucky now that it can work by providing take-out and retail, with cold cuts, cheese and refrigerators full of take-home and vacuum-packed,” said Mrs. Foschia. “We didn’t design it that way specifically for COVID; it was just a happy coincidence. We wanted it to be accessible to all kinds of customers.
“Likewise, the Prince Public Bar is now open from 7 am for breakfast and the bar has a coffee machine, which we did not originally expect. But we had such a positive reaction to the building. People are very happy to see such a beloved building come to life and be occupied. “
Auckland’s Ponsonby Hotel, originally a post office building, later turned into a Belgian beer barn and then a restaurant, is now reborn, via CTRL Space, as a contemporary version of a corner pub in the old one, of the type more normally seen in Sydney and Melbourne.
“I think some people saw it as a damn site because it had seen so many failed trades,” said Chris Stevens, director of CTRL. “But now it’s spinning. It is a modern version of a pub which has retained the character of the old building but with a family bar, a main public bar and a sports bar.
“It refers to Australian pubs like the Bakers Arms in Victoria and the Golden Sheaf and The Oaks Hotel in Sydney. It’s pretty amazing how fast it takes off.
Contestants for the titles, organized by Architecture Media and endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects and the Design Institute of Australia, whose winners will be announced on November 5, also include Chancery Lane on Little Collins Street in Melbourne CBD, by Bergman & Co It’s the reinvention of the historic Normanby Chambers from the 1880s into a moody 2021 restaurant and bar.
Then there’s Hinchcliff House, in a heritage wool store on Circular Quay in Sydney: a new four-story, four-venue center with a restaurant and cocktail bar by Mitchell and Eades. Sporting a completely contrasting look, the Harbord Hotel by Alexander & Co., a former 1950s beach pavilion with a fresh beach aesthetic. Finally, in Western Australia, there is Emily Taylor at the Warders Hotel, an 1851 accommodation for Fremantle prison guards and their families which has become, thanks to Matt Crawford, an elegant boutique hotel-restaurant.
“We see so much great work coming from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, it’s wonderful to see it coming from the west as well,” Ms. Hansen said.
“It’s so difficult with heritage buildings because there are so many constraints and obstacles to overcome, and often they are in a state of disrepair, but it’s heartwarming to see them start a second life, and, hopefully, that will last a long time. decades to come.
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