Project Team

design: BOARCH

Photos: Armelle Habib

Bad Love Club is a new boozy cafe come bar bakery in Footscray, located in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs. By day it serves up coffee and jaffles and by night signature cocktails with paired desserts. It is housed within an existing shop front tenancy, formerly a noodle bar that required complete demolition and internal redesign by BOARCH. The design for Bad Love Club incorporates back of house facilities, a commercial kitchen for baked goods and integrated signage.

The clients came to use with one hell of a brief, we were asked to imagine the space where Frenchy and Rizzo (from Grease) have a wild love affair and end up hanging out with Eric Clapton in Joshua Tree.  What a fantastic challenge and reality we wanted to make tangible.In addition to the aspirations of our clients, BLC needed to provide an inviting atmosphere that connected with the Footscray community, would help ensure repeat visits as well as providing for a safe, functional working and baking environment. All of which needed to be achieved within a finite budget.

We didn’t have great bones to work with, the existing shop front was within a neglected strip mall between a busy road and carpark. This presented many design challenges around how to create an inviting destination that could transition from the day to night program (bagels and coffee in the mornings, paired cocktails and desserts in the evening) while also attracting passing pedestrians and vehicular traffic. There was of course the not so small design challenge of making the Frenchy, Rizzo and Eric Clapton rendezvous real. In conceiving the setting for such a romance, the project came to light through considering the following influences; mirages, the specificity of the Californian desert, the otherworldly flora of Joshua Tree and the comforting American diner.

These references have been interpreted in the design through the following elements:

> Vivid pink and maroon coloured bands that wrap the rear wall alluding to the desert landscape. These tones contrast like the contrast of sky and ground within the desert vista and give a sun ripened feel.
> Strangely transparent and otherworldly green “tree” structures allow for hanging plants, creating a new field of flora.
> The placement of mirrors and perforated materials create qualities of a mirage, reflecting new vistas, illusions of depth and amplify the field of steel trees.
> Booth seating and colour blocking rift on the interiors of the classic American Diner.

Colour in this project was not just a consequence of a material choice. It was a decision founded on interpreting the references above to create a place of unique and specific identity. Fusing the iconic and the welcoming were achieved by focusing on people. Dense seating was located next to the corner windows, providing views to and between people. The main entrance and service window are highlighted to invite and facilitate wayfinding.

A variety of atmospheres were achieved by fixed and loose seating differentiated by the trees, giving diners choice around where to perch, sit for a date or settle in and dwindle the night away.The project needed announce BLC to passing pedestrians and cars. Colour was used strategically to create points of attraction such as the front entry, takeaway side window and corner illuminated signage, signalling BLC is waiting to serve the neighbourhood.