Working as a photographer, I’ve become more aware of ways of using natural light in interior design. Like grouping seats around windows, knowing that people will gravitate towards them. The private cafe for the Macquarie Group in Number One Martin Place was a challenge in that it was completely internal – it became an exercise in atmospheric low light.
The beauty of working with pools of light is that they create intimacy and mystery. Provide a haven from the fluoro lit world of corporate life. In my research stage I looked at hotel lobbies in London and Paris, teahouses in Japan & warehouse conversions in New York…
I wanted the space to be luscious and exciting: bringing in a massive silk patterned curtain, an oversupply of plants, salvaged timber wallpaper, leather lounges & rustic touches. I had large moveable screens made of glowing golden timber, with vertical slats to provide glimpses of the cafe behind. On the reverse side, a bench seat with soft kilim style cushions. An embossed jungle wallpaper used on the screens and in other areas came to represent the mood of the whole cafe.
I was the interior stylist on this job and there was a wonderful rawness to the inherited elements: the bar made out of blocks of concrete dug out of the building’s renovation, the exposed ceiling with massive silver air conditioning ducts. Great to be able to play with the juxtapostion of the rough and the smooth. Warehouse style windows lit by artificial light, based on the ones I designed for The Postmaster Cafe lined the far wall.
Music works well in this space. Leaving behind a record player and some 60s records I later heard of a vinyl night where people bought in their some of their own to play and share. Often when doing a job I’ll have a key early purchase that becomes symbolic of the whole design- in this instance it was a vintage poster of Bob Dylan: him in silhouette, his hair flames of psychedelic creativity. He resides there now, his silent spirit infusing the space.