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, which provided a primary design inspiration for the restaurateurs. Its also an homage to the Garagistes, a group of rogue winemakers in France who produce wines in distinct reaction to the dominant Bordeaux. Both interpretations of the word were inspirations to owners Katrina Birchmier, Kirk Richardson, and chef/owner Luke Burgess. Les Garagistes used grapes that were considered sub-par by elitists to make wines that made a powerful statement. Likewise, the interior of Garagistes in Hobart features modest materials like concrete, form-ply, and polycarbonate to make an equally powerful statement: that 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.
Photography by Luke Burgess (yes, Garagistes’ multi-talented chef), except where noted.
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.”
Above: 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.
Above: 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. Photo via Foodtrail.
Above: 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 red painted steel column at left echoes the accent.
Above: 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 seat 10 people each; custom design and fabrication by Tasmania-based Evan Hancock.
Above: The chairs are custom designs by Sydney-based Dieu Tan, made of solid Tasmanian oak and marine-grade plywood with Tasmanian oak veneer.
Above: The tableware is hand made 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.