Designer Kerry Phelan of Heckler Phelan Guthrie took a little bit of Paris into Melbourne’s Crown Casino when she created Guillaume Brahimi’s latest offering.
“Paris has always been one of our favourite cities so it was with great delight that we were awarded the contract to design Guillaume Brahimi’s new Melbourne restaurant. My co-directors and I have a long-standing history with Crown Casino, being part of the original design team, and designing the bar once known as Fidel’s. Ten years later, this was the site of the subterranean bar for Bistro Guillaume. It was an amazing opportunity to revisit a space with the breadth of design experience I had gained in the previous decade.
Guillaume Brahimi had a strong sense of how the restaurant should make the diner feel, and he gave us plenty of latitude in creating the interior. When we commenced the project, we formulated a rigorous plan following his brief and thought through all of the elements you would find in a French bistro. During a familiarisation trip to France with Guillaume, we visited many of Paris’s best venues. Here, we soaked up the essential qualities of a classic bistro—very different from a brasserie, cafe or bar.
The most basic element of a French bistro is warmth, and the entry at Bistro Guillaume sets the tone with a pair of elegant doors featuring bespoke brass handles and discreet signage. The restaurant boasts beautiful warm parquetry floors, French toile fabrics, fluted marble bar details and bespoke light shades that reference the couture of Moulin Rouge and Givenchy’s designs during the 1960s. Stephen Hennessy, the lighting designer and sculptor, had the lights manufactured by a wonderful Melbourne seamstress. The vintage French tea-towel chairs by Melbourne-based designer Suzie Stanford (www.suziestanford.com.au) typify the unexpected humour that is prevalent through the design.
The furniture consists of Gebrüder Thonet bentwood chairs which have been manufactured in Austria since the late 19th century, custom joinery banquettes and marble-topped tables with traditional French bases.
Downstairs, Le Bar is reminiscent of a subterranean Parisian bar. This somewhat avant-garde nightspot features a one-of-a-kind chandelier, generously scaled furnishings and a distinctly sultry mood.
We believe lighting really helps the aura of a restaurant. We like the idea of making it soft and having both pools of light and pools of dark. To accent or draw attention to a spot, we would discreetly light that particular area.
This restaurant makes guests feel intimate and special while giving their visit a sense of occasion. That’s sadly lacking from a lot of restaurants these days.
Guillaume oversaw the design of the kitchen, employing a specialist consultant to bring it all together. Overall, Guillaume was very receptive to our designs. He’s a huge perfectionist—as are we—and it all flowed together. I think we got it pretty well spot on.”
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
Tel: (03) 9693 3888
Fax: (03) 9693 3880
Hecker Phelan & Guthrie
1 Balmain St
Cremorne VIC 3121
Tel: (03) 9421 1644
Fax: (03) 9421 1677