Living on the edge has its benefits. Located on the north-western edge of Melbourne’s CBD, Brother Thomas is already reaping some benefits in its short 2-month residence.
At this end of town, the buildings open up to Flagstaff gardens and along with surrounding hotels, the lost tourists take on a slower, meandering pace than the very serious marchings of the Court and County officials in the next block.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Translating that idea in the numerous features of a café is quite an undertaking.
The concept of Flipboard café came from old airport terminal flipboards. Using this imagery, Martin and Megg set about transforming various elements using plywood, recycled Tasmanian oak and steel. The solutions include pop-out seats/tables, multi-level seating, the flipboard menu, in-laid shelving pockets and the central staircase. Stand-out elements include the hidden external benches at street level where customers can sit within the wall cavity, the seat “pit” on the upper level where a box has been cut out of the floor-space, and the individual stools that were finalists in the Melbourne Design Awards this year. The stools are made from recycled phone books, or 1980’s National Geographic magazines and other publications, secured with long lead screws between pieces of ply.
In all this Scutlebeaning, we describe the journey that shapes a café. Common to these travels is the need to express identity.
A rewarding café is not just about making money or getting a job. Finance is of course important and business plans and strategy will dictate longevity and survival. But at the centre of that entrepreneurial spirit is the need to establish uniqueness. Whether the business has a brick foundation or virtual platform, the pursuit is the same. It is creating something different and communicating that to the world.
Often the first consideration is selecting the location. Scouting the numerous options, does the space fit the initial vision? There’s the physical building, its potential, as well as the surrounding community, foot traffic, competition and access to resources. Does that specific space give the “right” impression?
George and Sam’s Stovetop café sits in the world of university students and new build. The challenge has been to incorporate the transient and frugal behaviour of this community, in a space that’s modern and warm. The key for Stovetop has been simplicity.
Robert from Piece Design is behind the look of the café with extensive experience in the retail and restaurant trade, so the elements are functional and graphic. The details to note include the feature light that if seen from a certain angle forms the Stovetop logo, and the design of the kitchen that sits within a house-shaped frame. This is an in-joke where they can proudly state that their kitchen literally produces “in-house” goods, but also allows the kitchen staff to view the floor rather than closing the space altogether. The overall sensibility is Scandinavian with whitewashed herringbone wood panels, Volker Haug globes, and blonde wooden stools and benches. The white besser blocks are a nod to 1960’s suburbia, and with some greenery and a retro phone-table there is that touch of home.