For designer Hamish Guthrie, the challenge was set: translate the stylish yet relaxed design of Longrain Sydney to the restaurant’s Melbourne location.
“Five years on from the creation of the Longrain in Sydney, HP&G were asked to design the new incarnation of the restaurant in Melbourne.
“Rather than completely redesign the interior of the space, we worked with the existing bar, kitchen and bathroom locations of the previous building tenant, which we believed to be relevant in the new context.
“The main request from the client was that the Longrain formula be introduced into the Melbourne restaurant. This meant that the idea of a separated cocktail lounge/waiting area was an important planning issue.
“Our design resolved the challenge by using banquette seating with tall backrests. These joinery items successfully separated the dining area from the entry thoroughfare, and created a cocktail lounge area that utilised the central bar. The language of the solid timber joinery still ensured a strong relationship between the cocktail lounge and the dining areas.
“A main challenge from a construction perspective was the treatment of the existing concrete slab and beam ceiling, which was to be a main part of our aesthetic direction. It had deteriorated to such an extent that large sections had to be replaced or remedied. This did not become apparent until well into the fit-out program, which demanded a review of our design approach for these elements.
“The Longrain dining formula was already a successful one: a lounge bar where a skillfully crafted pre-dinner cocktail can be enjoyed whilst waiting to be seated in the main restaurant; the long communal tables in the dining room, which encourage people to share the beautifully presented food. Rather than directly translate the physical references of the Sydney restaurant, the challenge was to evolve the brand and re-interpret it into a new Melbourne location and context.
“By peeling back layers of the previous fit-out, fantastic aged red brick walls, concrete ceiling, columns and beams were revealed. These became the canvas elements over which the fit-out was layered.
“The whole experience is a play on a fresh interpretation of the traditional Asian eatery. The custom-designed, jade ‘fish scale’ glazed ceramic tiled wall and large fish/lobster tank are references to the traditional Asian eatery whilst resisting the cliché.
“We re-interpreted the recognisable dining elements that are Longrain. The long tables have been given a new look, but the dining experience maintained. The introduction of new elements, such as the circular, oversized communal tables with integrated lazy Susans have become heroes in the space, highlighted with the modern chandelier overhead. Theatrical lighting is used to highlight the food and not the room. The food is the real focus of the experience.”
44 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9671 3151
Hecker Phelan & Guthrie
3C/68 Oxford Street
Collingwood, VIC 3066
Phone: (03) 9417 0466
Fax: (03) 9417 0866