Although I don’t intend for this blog site to be about my work, I will make this one exception because it is actually a great departure from my usual job and allowed me to have some creative input to an exciting project that I wanted to share with you: the refurbishment of an historic building into a fabulous cafe and meeting space that I’m extremely proud to have been a part of creating.
I do have a Certificate in Interior Design (more about that in another post) that I haven’t really had the opportunity to use other than in my own home and a few bits of advice to friends. So when the refurbishment was finally approved, I asked if I could be involved and became part of an Interior Design and Furnishings Committee.
We came up with a design brief that outlined what we wanted as the look and feel of the space to be. It had to fit with the historic 1930s deco-style building but also encompass a whole range of principles such as being relaxed, comfortable, flexible and inviting; reflecting that we do horticultural research and that there is a lot of science history attached to the building; but it also had to be energising, inspiring and give a sense of community; and of course to be future looking with technology and innovation. We wanted the design to reflect the colours and patterns of nature, and to recycle materials wherever we could.
With all this in mind we got approval to engage external interior designers, convincing the organisation that it would be money well spent and give a much better result than simply choosing furniture and fittings to go with the architectural plans. Then we went on lots of exploratory visits to other sites who had refurbished in styles that we liked, to learn what worked and what didn’t work. We visited and sought presentations from several design firms and furniture suppliers and chose companies that could work with us and accommodate a very modest budget. Over several weeks we worked with both companies and iterated a design that met our needs.
Recently we had the official opening and are very pleased with the result. The only negative comment I’ve heard is that is too nice and will make heading back to work after a break extremely difficult. I really love the quirky attention to detail that brings in old scientific equipment and botanical prints as part of the decor, use of colours of nature and ‘organic’ patterns on furnishings, making wonderful features of parts of the old building (like the exposed bricks on the ceiling and the staircase), and the imaginative reference to the Periodic Table in the signage. Downstairs is a cafeteria and upstairs a series of meeting spaces. In the basement is the Rumpus Room with showers and lockers, and a place for table tennis and pool tables.
Science & Nature Detailing
Creative Use of the Periodic Table
Making Features of the Old Building
Inviting Meeting Spaces