Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

 

Flack Studio‘s ‘flackification’ of the Fitzroy institution fluently combines the elements of the surprising and the familiar.

Gabriel is ingrained with a rich history. Within its fabric are many wonderful moments, meals, memories and macchiatos,” explains Flack Studio’s principal, David Flack. His design response honours Gabriel’s reputation of being a destination (once known as De Clieu) – a bright, vibrant space that is welcoming and homely.

Flack explored the notion of imagination in his initial concept – Gabriel De Clieu enjoying a coffee in a 1930s-mid-century café, inspired by Jean Royère‘s furniture and textiles from the same era.

“It was important to retain a sense of a local meeting place,” says Flack, who set out to reinvigorate a Fitzroy icon with a heightened sense of responsibility.

Throughout the vibrant space, materiality, pattern and colours collide – punches of red contrast with deep green, burgundy and pink stones play off raw steels, beaten brass, punchy coloured marbles, granites and travertines. With so many layers present in such a small space, each visit represents an opportunity for a new discovery with its many details, finishes and moments.

 

See more projects by Flack Studio on Yellowtrace.

 

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

 

A nod to Neo-expressionism abstraction art is referenced by local Melbourne artist Patrick Dagg‘s ‘King for Phillip’ – a peace that burrs the lines of abstraction and figuration with its layers of collage, paint and neon.

Mint Green striped ceilings are an homage to Gio Ponti, while the handmade custom blackened steel handles and mounted mirrors add tactility and humour.

“Ultimately, we wanted to create a space that felt suspended in time,” explains Flack. “A place while being humble to that quintessential experience of that first sip of coffee.”

Despite a relatively modest budget (yes, really!), Gabriel is crafted as a place of discovery, both for the regulars and those seeking a new experience, never letting you on to the fact this project was a definition of the labour of love.

Read on for a little Q&A with David Flack for further insight into this fantastic project.

 

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

 

+ What’s your favourite thing about the project?

The opportunity to work on the original De Clieu. Not only is it a Fitzroy institution, it was my favourite coffee spot in its hay day. I was saddened when it lost its spark a few years ago and was so excited when the new owner Andrew Skoullos said he wanted to bring it back to its glory days, particularly how he wanted the locals of Fitzroy to call it home again.

That was a challenge I was excited by. Who wouldn’t want to design a space for the locals of Fitzroy to call home?

I was excited by the opportunity to honour its legacy while creating something special for the local community. I also loved the original Windows by six degrees – I can’t wait for summer, so I can hang out in them.

This project also allowed me to push a rumble tumble element to my design and continue my play on materiality. Gabriel was formed through this play with materials.

+ And what was the most challenging aspect?

With smaller family businesses, the budget is always limited. The design almost came from the materials available. I always wanted it to be a clash of materials, however when the budget only allowed for a laminate and ply, it forced me to get creative. Gabriel was always going to have stone, but it was a challenge to get there though…

Luckily Andrew (the owner) was equally committed to the design intent for Gabriel.

 

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

Gabriel Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne by Flack Studio | Yellowtrace

 

+ What did you learn during the project?

Limited budgets can be a creative tool. Although I already knew this, I still was pulling my hair out, as it was a challenge to bring it in on budget, and we did! You have to let go of preconceived notions of design when working on a budget. As I say with all my smaller projects – ‘paint is your best friend’.

+ Would you have done anything differently?

I would love have to have taken my builders and joiners with me on this project, but the budget is king and it forced me on my hands – literally, I was doing all the tile set outs during the build.

+ Any other interesting facts you could share with us?

As I said above – it was very hands on. Not only was I searching every warehouse for tiles and stone, I was also on my hands and knees during the build doing all the tile set outs. I loved every moment of it.

Also, De Clieu is named after Gabriel De Clieu – a naval officer celebrated for introducing coffee to the western hemisphere in 1720s.

 

Related: Caravan 2.0 Restaurant in Seoul, South Korea by Flack Studio.

 

 


[Images courtesy of Flack Studio. Photography by Sean Fennessy. Branding by Pop and Pac.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

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