Location: Melbourne, Australia
Architects: Biasol Design Studio – www.biasol.com.au
Photographs: Ari Hatzis
Located in the popular bayside suburb of Elwood, The Milton exemplifies the ongoing gentrification of the area and it’s rich literary and architectural history. Characterised by the grand array of Victorian, Edwardian and Interwar architecture, Elwood has become synonymous with the classics. Named after one of the iconic British literary figures, which define Elwood’s streets, at The Milton. Inspired by this local sentiment, we developed a bespoke brand that evoked a sense of intrigue and old world charm, yet still felt familiar.
The brief was to establish a venue that delivered the wine list and refinement of an up-market restaurant in the form of an understated urban bar. Mellow and mature, our design response went about articulating a multi-zoned space that was at once accessible, atmospheric and moody, yet true to purpose with drinking, eating and socialising placed at the center. In conceiving this identity, we adapted a holistic approach that drew upon each of the studio’s multi-disciplines – Interior, Building, Product and Branding. This holistic, full-service model enabled us to shape a consistent experience throughout the entire venue that extends beyond the physical.
Retaining the original façade and honoring the site’s history was an important design consideration. Great effort was taken to preserve the much loved, internal brickwork. The existing structure was reinforced and engineered, whilst all existing internal walls and linings were stripped back and removed. The size of the land lent itself to the addition of a modern extension that follows the existing roofline and brings the outdoors in.
Structurally designed without collar bracing, we were able to run locally sourced Victorian Ash cladding along the length of the walls and ceiling. Formed in three sizes and coated in varying stain colours, the timber flows seamlessly from one span to the other, wrapping the area in a kaleidoscope of shadows and natural light. The result toys with depth perception and harbours on surrealism, drawing you in as you look out and vice versa. We wanted the overall design aesthetic to take patrons on an interior and architectural journey from the past into the future, both literally and metaphorically.
Our approach for The Milton was thusly an exercise in juxtaposition, with old and new elements, organic and manufactured materials, hard and soft textures harmoniously balanced. Exposed red brick and the reclaimed Australian timber we sourced, are paired with brass fixtures, blackened steel wine racks and Carrera Marble tabletops. We incorporated gold foil signage, a nod to tradition, and tailor made furniture embossed with the signature “M” to subtly echo the brand language.
At the epicenter of it all is an elongated timber bench top, which we stepped down to provide practical functionality, accommodating informal dining and casual drinking. The face of the bar is adorned with customised charcoal, white and grey triangular concrete tiles from Bespoke Tile and Stone. No one tile lies the same, instead their playful geometry serves as a contemporary feature that puts beverage service at the forefront. Hanging low overhead, we designed our own pendants and wall lights to achieve the desired ambience. Intimate and welcoming, the warm light extends out to the enclosed area where the seduction of an open fire, the lure of plush lounges and the quaintness of cascading greenery from Glasshaus create a relaxed and effortlessly sophisticated haven. It is here we find the paradise once lost by The Milton’s namesake John Milton.