I am thrilled to bring you today’s post about an exciting event currently running in Sydney. This post was written by a dear friend of yellowtrace, Domingo Antonio Robledo. Some of you may recall Domingo’s guest posts from last year (see them here and here). Domingo is one of those multi faceted creative people – a journalist, an editor, a photographer and a video producer – who recently left his position as an Editor of (inside) magazine, and is about to embark on an exciting adventure all the way in New York City. Woop woop!

Please join me in thanking Domingo for gifting us this post today. If only I wasn’t heavily pregnant, I’d be making a dash to The Blocks to drink my bodyweight in red wine and eat equally as much cured meat. Sure, that’s definitely not a pretty sight, so perhaps you can go instead and let me know what you thought of it? You have less than 2 weeks to do it, so – chop chop – on your bike!  x dana


It’s been a week since Studio Toogood arrived in Sydney to create the city’s latest cultural destination, a pop-up experiment and temporary haven for a bit of art, design and some delectable gastronomy, and it’s all starting to make more sense. Faye Toogood‘s work in this case reflects the differing characteristics of wine and the creative parallels that exist in other objects of art (colour and shape, for example, displayed through sculptures, a few light installations and photography, all created by local Australian artists). However, with this approach the Toogood design team pursues the study of a more instinctual human behavior before addressing the given product at hand. It actually pursues the visual and tangible sense of aesthetics to help guests decide on what to ultimately consume; in other words to experience your choices through various senses, before swigging a glass of wine and merely thinking through the taste buds, as normal.



Fairly ambitious, The Blocks’ spatial concept teeters on the fence between an art installation and the subtle luxury of a moody bourgeois restaurant. Set on a piece Sydney’s best maritime heritage, Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay, just under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this kind of hospitality concept is seldom found on this side of Sydney.


Commissioned to present not just the wine but the creative essence of its idiosyncratic makeup, the creative consultancy of Studio Toogood  worked with Penfolds to create a beautifully inspired brief: a presentation and ‘sensory experience’ exploring wine and its most elemental qualities. Why? Perhaps to shed light on the fact that crafting wine and food is an art form as any other, but people, being different as we are in character, tend to like what they like based on multiple sensory readings and interests.


The idea itself seems a noble one. The intent to ‘demystify the character’ of taste, no matter how complex, or plain, the substance—be it wine, whisky, coffee or even a country—seems to be a challenging one, of digging deeper for something more rooted in what modern craftsmen might consider to be a designed sense of character. Nevertheless, there is as much intent in creating a feeling here, as there is in creating a particular sense of character to each wine on offer by Penfolds. The characteristics of each grape type have been broken down into brackets, all of which have been interpreted into five different totems, oak sculptures, scented with perfumes that hint toward the wines and their essential characteristics.



And that’s just it. From the artworks chosen to the locally-foraged menu devised by Jock Zonfrillo, or even Toogood’s iconic Spade chairs (this time hand-crafted in cast aluminum, by local Australian manufacturing), The Blocks project seems to be more an experiment of regional character than a mere winetasting ‘experiment’ as you may have experienced before. The Blocks proffers a new taste in Sydney thru April 5th and travels to Melbourne in June, thereafter making it’s way to Europe in 2013.


[Unless otherwise noted, photography by Paul Barbera. Portrait of Faye Toogood (bottom image) by Domingo Antonio Robledo.]

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

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.

One Response

  1. Nikola Holt

    The interior design, layout and everything about this post is inspiring. Thank you for brightening my Thursday :)


Leave a Reply