Award-winning designer Travis Walton turned a long, skinny space with heritage bones into a foodie hotspot in inner-city Melbourne
“We had been in close contact with the owners [Simone Moss and Lynn Brown] for about 12 months trying to find the right space for them. We investigated various city sites until they finally settled on Flinders Lane. The existing operation was a dark and gloomy Japanese takeaway. We had to gut the whole premises and start again.
“The building is the original Tavistock House, one of Melbourne’s earliest hotel structures. The brief included a strong coffee focus, fresh display of food, a bar and a sales counter. At 20-by-four metres, we needed to split this long, narrow space between back-of-house and front-of-house, and incorporate all the seating.
“This required a design that made all elements part of the aesthetic expression. It wasn’t just about detailing elements that are seen from above but also from below—elements were kept consciously open and exposed. We had to be really careful about things like cables and mess.
“The seating capacity of the continuous benches allows Threefold to easily swing from a busy morning shift to a mid-morning where things are a little more casual and spread out. The leather banquettes with their pinched patchwork buttoning provide a luxurious level of comfort, while the simple metal frame and timber chairs add to the subtle industrial nuances of the space. The venue incorporates highlights of bright green to complement the neutral colour scheme.
“The floor was in quite bad condition so we pulled up the floorboards to assess how we should approach the repair. Interestingly, we found a basement area that’s been filled with over 100 years’ worth of building debris. We had to go over the top to install a new floor of European oak.
“The materials—the timber floorboards, leather banquette, mosaic counter front, white marble table with its bespoke cast-iron legs, the lava stone bar with green glazed tiled bar front—all complement each other perfectly. The stone top of the bar drops down to become the connecting plinth.
“The building doesn’t meet at a corner—it’s chamfered and there’s a picture window which is used to display product, bread and fresh produce. It’s a nice greeting to Flinders Lane. Located at the back of the venue, an artfully stacked black metal shelving system becomes a wall of wine storage.
“We also managed to save the original windows. They were part of the original building fabric.
“The project successfully merges the charm of a French bistro with city industrialism, providing a comfortable and homely space without becoming twee and sentimental.”