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Indesign Magazine
Indesign Magazine

Furniture as Art: George on Collins by Hecker Guthrie

The George on Collins has transformed from a predominantly weekend venue to a versatile space full of statement furniture pieces that act as works of art.



BY Elana Castle

November 28th, 2017


Famed Melbourne drinking venue the Longroom occupied the same space in the basement of George’s Building on Melbourne’s Collins Street for twelve years. When owners Greg Kahan and Simon Jones decided to transform the bar into a unique all-day dining and late night venue, they enlisted Melbourne design duo Hecker Guthrie to completely convert the space from a predominantly weekend drinking venue into a multi-use space that could serve breakfast through to late night cocktails.

“The brief required an almost ‘venue within venue’ approach as well as the creation of spaces that can be utilised in differing ways depending on altered furniture placements,” explains Stacey van Harn, a Senior Associate at the firm.

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Hecker Guthrie’s design strategy has incorporated the building’s historic and social cues while simultaneously creating an original mise en scène.
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“Rather than overlaying our own history on the site, this project was more about taking away the previously added layers to bring the original architecture to the forefront and using it as the basis for the new design,” continues van Harn.

The spatial arrangement supports a variety of dining and drinking experiences. “The space was essentially divided into five different patron areas,” explains van Harn. “The front spaces either side of the main entry stairs were seen as a more casual café zone, intended to be filled during the morning coffee trade. At night these spaces can transform into a casual meeting place for after work catch ups.”

The team relocated the bar to the centre of the main space, which forms a hub where all patrons congregate from lunchtime to late evenings. The raised platforms on either side of the venue perform double duty. “They are prime dining zones but again needed to transform into more casual tapas and drink purposes later in the evenings,” says van Harn. There is also a private VIP bar which can be set up for dining, cocktail or conference functions.

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Materially, the palette is refined and restrained.
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“Paired back painted heritage brickwork is the foundation for all spaces with the layering of solid walnut flooring and custom furniture adding warmth,” explains van Harn. “The black granite floor and bar appear as one element through the centre of the space, Davide Groppi Cathode pendants form the feature line down the centre of the venue over the bar and curtains in either genuine leather, linen or sheer fabric surround the space to add softness.”

The space underscores Hecker Guthrie’s innate ability to create a unique identity for each project. “Our philosophy often starts with creating beautiful and rigorous architectural spaces, and then inserting objects, or lighting, that have personality, to start to represent the individuality of the space. Through explorations in furniture, artwork and lighting, a more rounded identity is visible and representative of the venue,” adds van Harn.

Additional examples of this approach are evident in the granite plinths in the entry area, where furniture has been elevated to the status of art pieces, and “George”, the taxidermy moose head, the retention of an original item salvaged from the original Longroom fit-out.

Photography by Earl Carter.

See another project by Hecker Guthrie, The New David’s.


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