When a renowned chef launched a restaurant in Melbourne’s design enclave, he turned to an architect who could deliver both style and substance.
When Pearl Restaurant was first being developed, it quickly became apparent that chef Geoff Lindsay and his food were the outstanding features. With this in mind, the architecture had to be understated and consist of simple lines that deferred the focus to the beautiful food.
When I started working with Geoff and Andrew Gunn [both partners of Pearl] in 2001, Church Street was a new design enclave, with companies like Space Furniture and Poliform nearby. Pearl picked up on that kind of thematic aspiration.
We managed to convert a former providore store and cafe into a fine-dining restaurant. We completed it in nine weeks from starting the design to rebuilding it. That’s because we had a hands-on approach, with staff on site all the time.
The design brief focused on contemporary design but we also wanted to imbue it with a sense of timelessness—with simple, classical lines. Pearl wasn’t going to be passé in two or three years’ time.
We also embraced some new and interesting technology. We used imported oyster shell that was fabricated into thin tiles.
It was metaphorically perfect for the restaurant.
We also designed a large pearl door and then used pearl lining over the top of the bar. Behind the bar is a slit for a compact viewing out of the kitchen. It means that Geoff can keep working but can still see what’s going on throughout the restaurant.
The kitchen is small—about six square metres—but size is not an issue; it just needs to be well laid-out. It was a matter of creating a direct path area, so the wait staff could move quickly throughout the space.
Pearl is a split-level restaurant, so we wanted a linear concept with discreet, intimate lighting. We installed a beautiful coffered white ceiling and recessed all the lighting. The coffers act as a lineal line, expressing the length of the restaurant. It’s a strong geometric effect.
We chose a black, buttoned vinyl tile on the floor called Kinetics Matrix. Working double shifts on polished concrete can give your legs a beating, but this flooring provides comfort for the staff.
No two projects we do ever look alike because we start with a strong idea of the functional responsibility of the restaurant. There’s no point in having it in all the design magazines if the chef and the owner curse you every day. It might look great, but if it doesn’t work well, they’ll be out of business in two years.
So the strength is to create an ambience that reflects the functional intentions of the chef, and that really worked well in Pearl. We were very
involved with Geoff to make sure the kitchen worked beautifully. I would certainly count him as one of my friends and that’s always a good outcome for a restaurant.”
Pearl Restaurant + Bar
631 Church Street, Richmond, Vic
Phone: (03) 9421 4599
Fax: (03) 9421 0908
Basement 106, Barkly Street, St Kilda, Vic
Phone: (03) 9534 7674
Fax: (03) 9534 7664