One of the key points of discussion at the highly successful Property Council of Australia’s Sustainability Development Conference was the Melbourne versus Sydney debate, which featured key speakers Monica Bourne, the CEO of the City of Sydney and Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.
To their credit, both speakers refused to buy into the debate and focused instead on pointing out the architectural and planning innovation the two cities have been sharing, learning from and bouncing off of one another.
While there are too many instances of this sharing to list in full, one example that is becoming increasingly more relevant is Sydney’s development of laneway-style nightlife venues that mimic Melbourne’s own, which are now coming to light after certain restrictions were lifted in the city areas, thereby allowing for greater licensed venues.
The Beresford, designed by Melbourne-based interior design practice Kerry Phelan Design Office, is one such development. Located in a narrow street in central Surry Hills, the Beresford mimics the almost discreet nature of Melbourne laneway venues from the exterior, while on the interior it is a true fusion of inspired uniqueness. Taking inspiration from London and New York nightlife glamour, the music venue’s overall atmosphere harkens back to the art deco period, allowing it to stand as an elegant and unique nightspot.
“Architecturally, the Beresford is a mixture of many eras,” says design director Kerry Phelan. “Perhaps the strongest influence that remains is the art deco period. The overall feel is contemporary, but the references to the 30s really did strike a chord with us.”
Glamour is a key ideal for designers who, in wanting to stand out from the ‘dive bar’ style laneway bars, have used a warm, rich textured colour palate in the furnishings and dark wood features, with the sharp angularity of furnishings and interior moldings giving a resound nod towards the deco period.
The ‘newness’ of this type of venue, dotted throughout Sydney, leaves a challenge for designers who aim for the same ‘lived-in’ cultural element that sits at the foundation of their Melbourne-based counterparts. It is for this reason that Phelan decided to design in a fusion-oriented way, picking elements from different eras to create a sense of history in the space.
“Our main challenge was to make this venue look ‘undesigned’,” says Phelan. “It’s almost as if each room was conceived by a different person at a different time. We wanted the spaces to appear as if they’d evolved over a number of years.”
The venue adds a little glamour to the traditional laneway venue. Innovation sharing is a great industry tool, and allows for the best parts of each sector to be duplicated, yet makes developments unique through different design interpretations.
Rather than focusing on the Melbourne versus Sydney argument, and looking instead to the opportunities that shared innovation creates, the Beresford is a prime example that other successful projects can be developed in both cities.