Achieving both ‘now’ and ‘wow’, Luchetti Krelle has reinvigorated 55 North, the bar at Manly Pacific Hotel.
January 22nd, 2024
Tasked with countering the vast white minimalist foyer, Luchetti Krelle’s design for the adjacent space is layered and rich with a beach style more akin to a holiday home than a traditional bar. Working with a space that effectively housed a gaming room, bar and street facing room, each with its own particular challenges, the Luchetti Krelle design breathes new life into this iconic establishment.
“Hospitality design is about making people feel welcome, relaxed and confident. So the ‘less noticeable’ elements drove our process,” says Rachel Luchetti, co-founder and co-Director with Stuart Krelle. To this end, the three spaces, which were cramped and closed off, have been reinvented as a suite of four lounge-like conjoined rooms flanking the large central bar area, while delivering an inviting street presence. Spreading outward into the lobby, the design includes a new relaxed lounge area with a fireplace set within a large sculptural volume, checked timber coffee table, exceptional art and a much warmer welcoming ambiance.
Defined by what Luchetti describes as a “loose luxury”, the interiors are richly layered. Complementary tonal shifts pair with interesting combinations of tiles and wall finishes, plus screens and breeze blocks for varying transparencies. “Layered textures, spiced tonal triggers and punchy patterns were selected to energise the drinking spaces with a graceful attitude that prioritised home comforts,” says Luchetti.
The blackbutt timber lattice screens in particular are interesting with large vertical expanses used to create rooms within rooms without truncating visual depth. This same lattice is also used as soffits that delineates space and again has the effect of creating rooms within rooms. Expanding transparency further, Patricia Urquiola’s Celosia Montgri breeze blocks add a warm touch to the wall separating rear lounge and alfresco seating.
Tiles are similarly varied and interesting. The rear lounge, for example, has a Carrara marble fan mosaic floor (Teranova), while the fireplace plinth in the ocean-facing lounge incorporates a glazed Yohen Border (Academy), pacific Bluestone batons (Eco Outdoors), and Aquarzo quartzite (Artedomus) was used for the plinth while the ocean-facing lounge’s floor is inset with a ‘rug’ of Chicago Indian Green and Carrara mosaic (Terranova).
Holding centre-stage is the bar. Naturally. However, the room was closed off and the bar was too high, making for an unsettling combination that hardly said relax.
“Our clients requested replacing it with an island configuration but we upcycled instead, extending its length, adding curved returns and a protruding centre that welcomes with its interactive gait projecting towards the lobby (its outlines are echoed by a lowered bulkhead, alluding to a giant clam shell). A series of arched reliefs expressed by timber veneers add a delicate flourish to its face under a mass of solid stone,” says Luchetti.
To this end, the designers have lowered the bar and added custom leather swivel stools with curved returns to encourage lengthier sittings. The height of the ocean lounge fireplace’s hearth was also lowered to seat level.
Related: Louis also by Luchetti Krelle
“We retained elements that we could transform rather than remove and re-build, including the rendering of the fireplace and cladding its newly extended base in tiles to revive it,” says Luchetti. The bar is in fact magnificent with a bespoke hardwood face that is richly figured and unique with a Qariza quartzite counter (Artedomus).
Zapping the whole into something extraordinary, however, is the custom crazy paving floor of cream, pink, green and brown. It is a triumph of everything fabulous in seventies design, yet it doesn’t distract from the wild bar joinery in Ettore Sottsass timber in grey (Elton Group) that provides a smoking hot frame to the bar utilities. This in turn is topped by a coffered surround finished in Waterstone polished plaster in emerald green (Bishop Master Finishes).
Transforming the gaming room into an elegant cocktail lounge, a trio of alcoves housing discreet curved leather banquettes (NSW Leather) references Italian loggias and a relaxed mood. Here, turmeric and cinnamon tones provide the backdrop to a pastel Venetian-style underwater wall mural by Steady Hand Studio.
Striped (Arthur G) and ziz-zag fabric (South Pacific Fabrics) speaks to the breeze blocks and the addition of orange picks up the energy. For the ocean-facing sunroom, a great variety of striped and patterned upholstery fabrics in blues gives a welcoming hello to the street. It is, however, the lovely Tulip chairs by Adam Goodrum (Cult) in the lounge that really speak to long languid afternoons.
Furniture throughout is in fact excellent with the Aspen sofa in tan leather (Coco Republic), Helm Sofas by JRF in South Pacific Fabric and Pelle leather, and Archie sofa (Arthur G) in fabrics from Warwick and James Dunlop all large and comfortable. The armchairs including Jacquie (Arthur G), Harbour (Cult), Custom armless (Arthur G) and Kangaroo occasional (Juliet’s Balcony) are similarly considered and sophisticated selections. Dotted throughout are Roll armchairs (Kett) and Willy Sling Lounges (Reddie) plus a fun selection of Zambesi style tables and stools from Coco Republic. Tables are mostly round, but richly varied with Calacatta Viola, Green stone, and segmented timber tabletops over an equally varied assortment of single leg plinths that range from slim to broad and cage like (Reddie).
LK have a remarkable talent that each of their projects continues to prove. Yes, there is the wow factor, that of-the-moment aspect that all hospitality needs, but there is also a constancy to the considerations of flow, utility and spatial use that remains in the bones when colours or finishes go in and out of favour. There is also an understanding of clientele, with each project very specifically designed for both locals and design tourists alike. Add to this the extraordinary selection of bark paintings and 55 North is both now and wow, as well as impressively future proofed.
We think you might also like to read about the restaurant interior design of Luchetti Krelle for Redbird.
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