The owner of this cosy bar in inner Sydney hired a designer to help him create a warm, moody atmosphere without breaking the bank, writes Kerryn Ramsey
When Luigi ‘Gigi’ Galuppo purchased Kingston Public in February last year, he envisioned turning it into an intimate night-time establishment where locals could settle in, sip spirits, order share plates, listen to the latest DJs and chat with friends any night of the week. To that end, Galuppo called in designer, sculptor, artist and furniture maker Jonny Gloss. “The brief outlined what they were trying to achieve and it was just a case of making it as nice as possible with a limited budget,” says Gloss, a UK designer now based in Sydney. “I decided to make it fairly dark and draw as much attention to the bar as possible. A couple of different orange colours were added behind the bottle display with back lighting, and a neutral dark colour was used for the ceiling and walls. A long mirror gave the place a feeling of width and space.”
Kingston is in a fairly new brick building, right next door to a USA Nails shop, and “a clearly defined separation between the two outlets was required,” says Gloss. “We achieved this by introducing a vinyl wrap across the windows and painting a small panel outside. The signage conveys necessary information to prospective customers, while the lighting and atmosphere draws them inside.”
Eschewing the open-kitchen concept, Gloss hid the kitchen away at the back. “I thought it best to be more of a bar where the cooking happened behind the scenes,” he says. “There wasn’t much renovation work required with the kitchen—just some new equipment—and the last thing you want to do while sipping on a nice whisky is to be watching a functional kitchen.”
In keeping with Gloss’s philosophy of working with what was there, the existing furniture was given a revamp. Grungy tables were refreshed with a couple of coats of paint, the bar was updated and the stools had black padding added to their seats. “You can tweak things, work with what you’ve got and get a really nice result,” says Gloss.
Kingston Public Bar & Kitchen is all about Galuppo’s energy. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with more enthusiasm than Gigi,” says Gloss. “He’s wonderfully friendly and always optimistic. I remember thinking at the start of this project, if anybody has the energy and the right attitude to make this work, it’s Gigi.”
Galuppo’s friendship with MONA owner, David Walsh, in Hobart, has enabled him to stock Kingston Public with a full selection of Tasmanian whisky and some limited-release gin. To accompany these rare liquors, the small kitchen produces share plates, hand-cut rock-salt desiree potato wedges, and perfectly balanced charcuterie and cheese boards—with cheeses flown in every week from a boutique farm in Tasmania. Kingston Public has grown steadily in popularity and reputation with Galuppo always on hand to welcome customers.