Style icons of the industry

When Stella Collective’s Hana Hakim made a dash to London to attend the World Interiors Design Awards in late 2015, she boarded the plane “quietly confident” that the design of Melbourne’s The Kettle Black had a good chance of taking home an international accolade.

“The project had just been named Best Café Design at the Eat Drink Design Awards in Melbourne, and I just had this feeling it would be a long trip worthwhile – and it was,” Hana says. “Winning Best Restaurant Design – in the world – absolutely blew my mind. I’m still smiling from ear to ear.”

The international jury pronounced the interior of The Kettle Black as a great example of how “less is more to create a dynamic design”, while Australian judges from the Eat Drink Design Awards acknowledged Hana’s “deliberate juggling of disparate materials”.

But to Hana, the winning recipe was all about a careful balance between great aesthetics, personality, function and flow.

“The Kettle Black has everything you could want in a café. It’s got a lot of character,” she says. “I knew how important it was to create a space that was as beautiful and legendary as the food and coffee being served. The result is a warm, welcoming, space that is loved by die-hard locals, and keeps customers coming back for more.”

Hana says it’s no real surprise that Australia’s design accomplishments are being recognised on the international stage. Time and time again, she says Aussie creations are revered for being so “specific, different, and new”.

“I think what sets Melbourne’s design apart is our relaxed and sophisticated feel,” Hana says. “I met a lot of people in London who are prepared to fly over to Melbourne to observe our café culture for inspiration, then take that back home to start their own design movement.”

When Hana moved from London to Melbourne in 2002, she says the city’s iconic food scene was one of the first things she recalls being impressed by.

“The food scene is in a league of its own. Our dining scene is eternally evolving. The lines are clearly blurring between café and restaurant, dining and play. Dining is now as much about gratifying our design senses as it is about satisfying our palate. It takes more than a top-notch menu to become a success, and to please our food-loving consumers,” she says. “Australia has such a strong association of café image, which is now being recognised and documented all over the world. As such, these days design plays a large role in our decision to visit a particular venue.”

To reach any level of success however, Hana says a united partnership between the client and designer is key.

“Both need to work together well in order to push the design boundaries. The Kettle Black is an example of that. Working with Owner Nathan Toleman was wonderful. Right from the beginning Nathan handed over full artistic control with the brief to ‘make this a design no one has ever seen before.’”

This article features in the February edition of BeanScene Magazine. To read it in full pick up your copy here.

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