Melbourne Art Deco meets Mediterranean opulence in a new and refined wine bar. Taking cues from Kew’s renowned interwar architecture, Bar Alba channels the old-world European charm of Italy’s enoteche while respecting the remnants of its heritage-listed site.
An intimate wine bar, Bar Alba is dedicated to showcasing fine Italian produce and fortifies the client’s passion for bringing quality wines and the convivial Italian lifestyle to the people of Kew. An ode to classic, comforting and timeless design, the brief was to deliver a classic European wine bar aesthetic. The client’s desired somewhere elegant yet comfortable; a space not preoccupied with perfection which would age well and where people would feel inclined to stay awhile and relax.
On entering Bar Alba, the eye is immediately drawn to the monolithic bar – at nine metres long, this is the true showpiece of the fit out. Wrapped in rich emerald green scalloped panelling with brass foot rests, and topped with an elegant marbled feature bar top, the bar is anchored within the space by the expansive 3.6m high timber ceilings which were lovingly restored as part of the design intent. Curved walls bring a softness to the design, juxtaposed against the metal details and fluted wainscoting.
Opposite the bar, the regal green leather banquette offers a comfortable, intimate setting for guests to enjoy their evening. The walls above feature geometric forms – referencing the exterior heritage patterns of the building – and are punctuated by individual gold sconces which envelope the seating below in a warm, gentle light. Custom built walnut joinery showcases some of the 400 labels of finest Italian and Australian wines on offer.
The graphics were European inspired yet created in a contextually appropriate way. The small brass plaque at the entrance is a nod to the subtle advertising you’d see walking the streets of Italy – albeit in a deco typeface. Buchan’s Brand Experience team created an effortless, timeless branding for the bar, something that should never have to change, that felt appropriate and that was adaptable for different mediums.
Accommodating 37 patrons across three distinct dining heights inside and featuring a separate illuminated courtyard which intimately sits ten, Bar Alba celebrates the sharing of fine food and wine.
Bar Alba showcases Buchan’s expertise in boutique, intimate hospitality settings and is a synthesis of the studio’s creative and practical mastery in delivering impact to a space, no matter its size.
Photography: Tom Blachford