In Tasmania, a restaurant called Garagistes offers a pitch-perfect interpretation of its namesake.
The name Garagistes is a reference to the space’s former life as a commercial garage, a design inspiration for the restaurateurs. Its also an homage to the Garagistes, a group of rogue winemakers in France who produce wines in reaction to the dominant Bordeaux. Both interpretations of the word inspired owners Katrina Birchmier, Kirk Richardson, and chef/owner Luke Burgess. Les Garagistes used grapes that were considered sub-par by elitists. Likewise, the interior of Garagistes in Hobart features modest materials like concrete, form-ply, and polycarbonate to make an equally powerful statement: there is still uncharted territory in the “industrial inspired” design genre.
Co-owner Kirk Richardson was one of the restaurant’s primary designers, along with planning architect Paul Johnston. Richardson was kind enough to share some of his design perspective with us; continue reading below.
Above: The design was partly inspired by the Danish concept of hygge; roughly translated as a shared experience of joy, often experienced over food and drinks. Says Richardson, “We liked the fact that through lighting we could create intimacy in quite a large space.”
The back wall is clad in 16-gauge hot rolled steel, finished with a lanolin-based seal. The cutout window offers a glimpse into the restaurant’s meat-curing cellar. The owners bolstered the existing clerestory polycarbonate panels, preserving the garage’s excellent north-facing daytime light. The ceiling is EchoPanel acoustic paneling, made from recycled PET bottles.
The owners liked the idea that the space would be revealed to guests as they entered; a heavy door and simple signage don’t give away the story.
Note the wall clad in black form-ply panels; look closely and you’ll see the designers left some space between the panels, revealing the wood’s factory-applied red edges. A painted red steel column at left echoes the accent.
According to Richardson, “The idea with communal dining is that the food sells itself; people look at what their neighbors are having.” The Tasmanian oak tables each seat ten; custom design and fabrication by Tasmania-based Evan Hancock.
The chairs are custom designs by Sydney-based Dieu Tan, made of solid Tasmanian oak and marine-grade plywood with Tasmanian oak veneer.
The tableware is handmade by Kirk’s father, Ben Richardson of Ridgeline Pottery. He designed a custom range for the restaurant made from clays and glazes using local Tasmanian materials.
For more Down Under garden style, see A Garden You Water Four Times a Year.