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The African crowning glory of Canberra’s Meat & Wine Co

by Madelein
The African crowning glory of Canberra’s Meat & Wine Co

The brilliance of Design Partnership Australia’s latest project can only be described as majestic. The design trio of Callie van der Merwe, Calvin Janse van Vuuren and Roberto Zambri has undoubtably created one of the most spectacular restaurant designs ever seen.

They are capturing not only the essence of African storytelling but raising the bar for creative interpretation within the given brand identity of Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group.

“Every golden fabric piece is like a single moment, however, when many singular moments are brought together, they create a ‘tapestry’. A tapestry that can tell a full, rich, deep story with many layers and facets along the way.”

Project showcase: Meat & Wine Co Canberra.
Design company: Design Partnership Australia.
Location: 1 Constitution Avenue, Constitution Place, Ground Level, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia.
Size: 660m².
Category: Premium steak dining restaurant.
Completion: 2021.
Client: Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group.
Art installation: Kent & Lane in collaboration with Design Partnership Australia.
Lighting: Ark Lighting.
Booth seating: KSU Design.
Build: SGB Group Australia.
Project manager: George Kyrpianou.
Photography: Lightbulb Studio.

The concept of storytelling

Meat & Wine Co has an African heritage; thus, each design concept takes it inspiration from these roots where storytelling through the ages formed a core part of the African legacy. Stories made it possible for cultures to pass knowledge, history and significant events from father to son and from one generation to the next.

It essentially is retelling a tale to an audience of one or many through voice, movement and expressive gestures. It creates a series of mental images associated with spoken words.

  • It takes you on a journey.
  • It reflects social values.
  • It inspires you and maybe even motivates you in the pursuit of a more meaningful life.

In African cultures, these shared events were used as a way for the elders to teach important life lessons, entertain and invite people to participate in a significant moment.

With every successful restaurant, similarly, spaces are used to socialise, tell fascinating stories and entertain the people that come to them.

All Meat & Wine Co stores take their inspiration from Africa, whilst staying grounded within each site’s unique Australian surroundings. Meat & Wine Co Canberra took inspiration from the act of storytelling around a central point that is lived and filled with people – the audience.

Shongololo – bringing it all together

Storytelling in many traditional African cultures happens at night, around a fire under the open sky and often in an enclosure. Each Meat & Wine Co has a different interpretation of this enclosure, often referred to as a lapa, boma or the homestead.

Crowning African nostalgia

As humans we are drawn to being part of a bigger dream, story and narration – allowing us to live in a moment of time. There is a sense of African nostalgia and belonging which the golden crown created and brought to the city. Every golden fabric piece is like a single moment, however, when many singular moments are brought together, they create a “tapestry”. A tapestry that can tell a full, rich, deep story with many layers and facets along the way.

At this site, the envelope is surrounded by glass on three sides and is also reasonably congested in its footprint. The solution was to create one big central island or boma interpretation in the middle of the space. The interpretation is formed by the inward-facing bench seat that is rolled up around the entire base of the boma. We refer to this as the “Shongololo”, a Zulu word for centipede and literally meaning “to roll up”.

Join us for a visual design exploration as we delve deeper into Design Partner’s interpretational design story for Meat & Wine Co Canberra.

Canberra’s art installation – African-inspired crown

Making the African crown – frame | Sculpted fabric | Install

Development of the metallic fabric sculpted tiles. Installing of the frame on site with LED lighting on each level

The sculpted fabric is being installed to the frame

About 1 200 individually sculpted gold, silver, bronze and copper tiles were made for the crown, taking Kent and Lane in South Africa approximately four months to design and develop. The frame of the crown was made by SGB in Australia.

Click here to see the concept video of the installation in place

Click here to see the concept video of the design of the exterior area:

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to Design Partnership for sharing this awe-inspiring project with us. Please visit them on www.designpartnership.com.au.

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