Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

 

In the historic vaults below Melbourne‘s Federation Square, Pilgrim Bar combines luxurious textures, colour and curves to create an intimate space beneath the vaulted brick ceiling above. Designed by the young local practice SETSQUARE STUDIO, the interior features hand blown Mark Douglass pendants, original Hans J Wegner CH46 chairs as well as art by local illustrator Sean David James.

The mood is dark, but the designers have injected the space with life by paying careful consideration to the lighting, adding colour via the royal blue velvet upholstery and plush carpet in the perfect shade of purple, with plenty of accents of brass thrown in for good measure. Yum. The interior also manages to offer a variety of seating options within such a tiny space, not to mention solve a host of tricky problems the space inherently presented.

SETSQUARE STUDIO is a multi-disciplinary design office based in the historic ‘Hardwick Building’ on Sydney Road in Brunswick. The studio has a strong emphasis on material and formal explorations across interiors and landscape design. We had a quick chat to the founder, Caitlin Perry about this little gem of a project. Read on for what she had to say.

 

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

 

+ What was your design inspiration for this project – i.e was it a result of client’s brief, a particular concept or an idea etc?

The design inspiration for this project was centred on creating a modern day Speakeasy bar. Referencing the ‘underground’ nature of the location (situate below Federation Square) as well as Pilgrim’s ethos of showcasing a boutique range of Australian spirits influenced this concept. The main agenda was to offer a different experience to the rest of Pilgrim – which is predominantly an outside riverfront bar orientated towards the Yarra and Southbank. The interior component of Pilgrim celebrates the historic vaults creating an intimate, textural and warm atmosphere – directing focus inwards to the brick and Malmsbury Basalt stone structure.

Offering a variety of seating options within the tiny space was crucial to its success. The space allows for flexibility of use from a quiet drink or meal to a place that could comfortably host Pilgrim’s monthly ‘Talk + Taste’ series.

With their emphasis on locally sourced food and drinks the design also aims to embrace Melbourne. Featuring hand blown glass pendant lights from Richmond based Mark Douglass and artwork by local illustrator Sean David James.

 

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

 

+ Your favourite thing about this project?

From my first site visit to the Princes Walk vaults (with Pilgrim occupying #15-19) I was utterly blown away by the 127 year old brick vaulted ceilings. I knew at this point that any constructed element in the space had to be sympathetic and directly connected to this majestic structure within.

For this reason my favourite design element would be the velvet blue curved banquette seating which draws influence in its form and scale from this significant feature of Melbourne history. Designed to achieve ‘ultimate lounging’ it directs the occupants attention up to the ceiling. On a functional level this banquette also allows for flexibility in its configuration – from an intimate two person setting, to when the tables are abutted the gathering of 15+ people around the sample food and drinks at the monthly show and tell.

The only source of heating for the space is concealed behind the banquette seating through the use of mirror. In addition, the reflection created aims to minimise the banquettes visual presence from outside looking in.

 

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

 

+ Most challenging aspect?

There were two main challenges to consider when designing Pilgrim – lighting and storage. Both challenges however, generated interesting design opportunities and contributed immensely to the overall look and feel of the space.

As the Princes Walk Vaults are heritage listed we were restricted by the electrical works we could undertake and were limited to using exposed cabling and conduit. We counter balanced this by creating areas for lamps and exaggerating the electrical cords to the four pendant lights. To me the long looped cording not only emphasises the multitudes of arches in the space but is also quite reminiscent of Gaudí’s ‘Hanging Chain Models’.

The other minor challenge was Pilgrim’s lack of a ‘back of house’ area. As the vaults are approximately 5m deep and backing onto solid earth, all services, storage and equipment needed to be concealed within the room itself. The combination of upgrading the existing joinery and including new drapery helped mediate this challenge whilst dividing the space into zones of use and loose furnishings.

 

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

 

+ What did you learn during the project?

This project taught me the importance of investing time into designing a few signature moments yet respecting the history of the site and the allowing its story to shine through.

+ Any interesting/ funny/ quirky facts you could tell us?

Whilst the curve, in my opinion, is one of the most purest and aesthetically beautiful lines, it is not always the easiest thing to achieve in reality. Not only was the banquette design curved in the horizontal plane but also had an angled back rest in the vertical. This took a lot of time and patience from the fabricators to translate my 3d renders and drawings to a physical seat.

I have the utmost admiration for our banquette builder and glazier who both had two separate attempts at creating the curved seating and mirrored shelving behind to get it perfect! The end result is fabulous and definitely my favourite design feature of the space.

 

Pilgrim Bar by SETSQUARE STUDIO | Yellowtrace

 


[Images courtesy of SETSQUARE STUDIO. Photography by Daniel Aulsebrook.]

 

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