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Mad Men meets INXS

The Joker and Thief, designed by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Stewart + Highfield, is where 1960s mid-century modern has a 1980s glam-rock edge.

Mad Men meets INXS

Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast is your classic beach town with a long stretch of white sand, rolling waves and a buzzing esplanade. The Joker and Thief, however, is not your typical beach town venue. Designed by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Stewart + Highfield, The Joker and Thief is where “Mad Men meets INXS,” as Brent Fitzpatrick, co-director of Fabric Architecture describes. It’s where 1960s mid-century modern has a 1980s glam-rock edge; where cocktail dresses comfortably sit alongside ripped jeans.

The Joker and Thief, which takes its names from a Bob Dylan lyric, is in the first-floor tenancy of a former Hogs Breath Café. The owners wanted to provide an all-day destination – a bright and airy venue for breakfast and lunch, and a plush night-time restaurant and bar with live entertainment. “The bar had to be different from what was currently on offer around the Central Coast. There are plenty of restaurants and small bars but nowhere that blends the two perfectly,” says Brent. He and co-director Damien Furey partnered with Xanthe Highfield to create a narrative for the interiors that would set the venue apart. “It needed to be fun and stylish. A place where you can dress up to the nines and look perfectly at home next to someone in ripped jeans and a t-shirt,” Brent explains. The narrative “Mad Men meets INXS” emerged from this brief and was applied throughout the design, from the velvet upholstery and brass details to the dark green furnishings and injection of pink.

A monochromatic tunnel, lit by LED strip lights, establishes street presence for the first-floor venue, setting the mood and attracting the attention of passers-by. Stairs lead up to the maître d’ station where “The Joker and Thief” blazes in pink neon light.

The existing kitchen and lift shaft had to be retained and influenced the spatial planning. Fabric created separate zones, with the bar at the front holding ringside seats for a view of the beach, and the dining located towards the rear, next to the kitchen. The large sliding windows overlooking the beach also had to be retained. “We designed high bar and semi-circle tables around the perimeter of the room to maximise the number of people able to take advantage of the view. They are definitely the best spot to watch the sunset and bar transform,” Brent says.

The venue is decked out with dark-green stools and banquettes and bright pink and blue velvet seating. They complement and contrast with the dusty-pink walls and timber panelling, and there are plants overhead, rather than lighting, to create a moody, flattering space.

The bar is the focal point of The Joker and Thief encapsulating all the elements of the “Mad Men meets INXS” theme. “The subtle curves, symmetry and timber mixed with brass mirrors and detailing, plays on the mid-century styling whilst creating an underlying relaxed atmosphere,” says Brent.


Photography provided by Fabric Architecture.

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