Cool Business Fitouts

Cool Business Fitouts

Style profiles the geniuses behind some of Brisbane’s coolest bar and restaurant fitouts.

By Lucy Stephens | 8th October 2014

By Lucy Stephens, Claudia Jambor and Maria Grippo

As Virginia Woolf once famously said: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” As many a foodie will tell you, dining is as much about the ambience and experience as it is about the food. The creative brains behind Brisbane’s hottest venues share how they set the scene for the complete experience with innovative, inspired and effective design in their business fitout.


interior of cowch

Cowch has an udderly appealing interior

Cowch’s udderly delicious sweet treats and great service are only part of the dining experience. Queensland’s first dessert bar concept was over two years in the making before it was presented to the team at Space Constructions. The 14-month collaboration with Dreamtime Australia Design resulted in one of Brisbane’s most popular dessert joints.

Cowch’s interior design creates “an interesting and enticing space to which their customers want to come for the experience as much as for the service," explains Andy Tomic of Space Constructions.

With the credit of renowned architect Michael McCann from Dreamtime Designs, Andy remarks how Cowch’s lavish design and quirky aesthetic appeal opened construction opportunities through the use of products previously never before installed in Australia.

While sourcing materials, maintaining a high level of detail was one of the many challenging aspects in the construction process, according to Andy.

“Working with a world renowned architect, a client with vision and unwavering attention to detail, made all the hard work worthwhile, with the end result exceeding expectations," says Andy. “[The] most pleasing was seeing our staff and contractors embrace the challenge and deliver a truly unique space."

2/179 Grey St, South Brisbane

Habitat Bar and Restaurant

Design is important to Mal Watts and Scott Higginbotham of Habitat

Design is important to Mal Watts and Scott Higginbotham of Habitat

When Mal Watts wanted to open his bar at West End with business partner and Rugby Union player Scott Higginbotham, he knew he had to think outside the box.

‘The place was originally an underground concrete carpark, so transforming something so cold into an inviting dining space took a lot of vision,” Mal says.

He also knew that customers also wanted something that was truly unique.

“There is definitely a distinct and growing bar scene in Brisbane with people favouring places with an edgier vibe,” he says.

“This is even truer in West End where there is a strong foodie scene and where a highly diverse mix of people meet to eat and drink together.”

Habitat is a restaurant and bar, with smaller inside dining and a larder outside area, featuring natural and locally sourced elements with lots of timber, organic and moody textures, crossed with some industrial elements like steel, concrete, brick and copper.

The bar has been designed to feel like an oasis in the streets of West End, with table tops built out of a recycled bridge sourced from Mal’s ‘beloved northern rivers’ in Kyogle, and even features a living art farm in the main bar.

“The look and feel of Habitat reflects our own personal style. Myself and Scott Higginbotham have designed and sourced every element for our previous venues….together we have sourced everything from light fittings to the camouflage wrapping of the coffee machines.”

“For me, the favourite part was seeing the reaction on people’s faces on the final day. There was a lot of back patting happening on the site.”

Cnr Boundary and Edmonstone St, West End

Cocobliss Collective

Cocobliss collective entrance and dishes

Cool, colourful, and reminiscent of a holiday in the tropics is key to Cocobliss' design aesthetic.

The interior design of Brisbane’s hottest health food joint is just as clean as the food it serves. “We wanted something that looked fresh, vibrant and energetic but that still had a bit of a cool, rustic vibe,” says co-owner Candice. In a stroke of ingenuity (and perhaps a lack of funds), Candice and her partner-in-crime Melita designed everything themselves – a successful case of making virtue from necessity.

The duo wanted the healthy image of their brand and goodies to be reflected in the ambience of their stores without being too daunting, to attract those interested in sampling some healthy treats. “This is why we wanted it to feel slightly more commercial than organic."

Luscious, exotic locations such as Bali, Brazil, tropical Islands and the beautiful simplicities of life were some of the sources of inspiration for Cocobliss’ uplifting fitout. Candice has some very useful tips for new business owners for choosing the most effective fitout. “Don’t complicate it, keep it simple, eye catching and don’t make it too much of a puzzle for people to work out what your brand is about," she advises.

Bulimba, South Brisbane and Nundah

The Depo

The external area at Depo West End

Depo is eclectic and unique.

The über hip Depo Restaurant and Bar is tucked away in West End's Horan Street. Owners Alexander Lotersztain’s and Erik van der Genderen managed and delivered the entire process of the project themselves in collaboration with Alex’s own design consultancy firm, Derlot Studios.

Mastermind/designer Alexander Lotersztain explained that the whole fitout took a mere three months to complete due to their hands on approach, with the most challenging aspect of the fitout being the approval processes. The stylish interior design allows for a seamless transition from day to night, encouraging patrons to feel ‘comfortable and inspired’ in the space.

The loft-inspired eclectic fitout allows revellers access to a flexible space that can be utilised for a myriad of purposes including parties, art shows, restaurants, live performances and more. The space is loft-inspired, that sets the scene for patrons to feel comfortable in a space where they can enjoy hanging out.

‘The raw original interior gave us the inspiration on what to do with the space," says Alex. This ultimately creates a space that relates to the audience. The design and collaboration of the Derlot and Depo teams have not only resulted in a fun and super hip environment, but one that fosters friendship, “which is at the end of the day what [Depo] is all about."

16 Horan St, West End


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Article by Lucy Stephens

Lucy Stephens is a Senior Digital Journalist and Content Strategist at Style Magazines. She's a travel addict, considers gelato an appropriate meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner (salted caramel, preferably), and suffers from a moderate to severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out).


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