A bold redesign, new French-inspired menu and theatrical buffet concept mark the reinvention of InterContinental Sydney’s Café Opera, unveiled as the fresh face of hotel dining in Australia’s largest city.
Designer Thomas Bucich aimed to create an ‘operatic’ interior for the venue taking his cue from the hotel’s inherent culture of quality and high attention to detail and the chef’s new invigorated menu and presentation. Bucich stripped the heritage space back to its original envelope and carefully infused it with the contrast of polished clean lines, crisp white details with an overlay of his own interpretation of Baroque opulence and decoration.
The existing identity being Café Opera remains, with a simple contemporary makeover. Thomas’s hand drawn brush + ink letter ‘O’ linked with a custom type font is now the new Graphic Identity. The name refers to a classic art form, but the new logo reflects the buildings classic heritage with a modern inflection. The connotation of Opera is one of grandeur and elegance; portraying this with the freedom of handwritten lower case script creates balance and reflects the breadth of clientele that the Intercontinental attracts. Classic structure and decoration mixed with modern details.
The overriding requirement of the restaurant is that the venue services its breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet offerings. Rather than apologizing for the buffet, the new concept celebrates it on a grand scale. The updated open show kitchen on view behind the hot buffet counter creates an interactive ambience between the kitchen and the patrons. The cold buffet along with a refrigerated dessert ‘cabinet’ compliments the hot buffet, and is the focal point within the dining room. All of the buffets in the grand space are treated as individual pieces of furniture crafted in fine dark timbers, exotic granites, and all detailed in matte gold trim.
The main dining room has a variety of seating options from lush upholstered banquettes along the window wall to individual tables, and an over scaled 5 meter long camel-back sofa. The original ceiling cornices and gilt star paintwork are retained, but are contrasted with a rich colour scheme, punctuating the classic architectural envelope to be finished in modern glossy white special finishes.
The entire dining area is punctuated by Bucich designed custom chandeliers of interlocking oval rings in matte gold, reminiscent of the Café Opera’s letter ‘O’. floating through the space. Along with other bespoke pieces of furniture and accessories, the carpet also custom designed by Thomas Bucich, is a richly coloured over scaled classical motif, in rich reds, browns blacks and ivory. The Whitecliffe Imports carpet was created by combining computer generated images finished with hand ink and brushwork by Thomas, carrying through the technique seen in the logo.
“The carpet carries through my overall design of the venue,” commented Bucich. “The space is within a heritage building, and I
“I choose HTW carpet with metallic loop construction as I really like the texture and the ‘sheen’ of the loop. It has a feel of modern glamour and opulence which ties into the atmosphere I’ve created in the restaurant. As I’ve used this product before at Ladylux and have had no complaints years later, I was once again pleased with the result, as is the client.”
The existing hot buffet area is converted into an open kitchen with a serving counter opening to the dining room. This adds culinary drama whilst meeting the dual use of buffet and fine dining options.
The two existing feature rooms being the tasting room and the rotunda can be used as private rooms or as additional seating for restaurant patrons.
The tasting room gets a ‘classic with a twist’ design of dark espresso stained oak timber floors, ostrich skin upholstered dining chairs, and over scaled mirrored features.
The rotunda becomes an intimate room with more of a champagne lounge feeling with plush upholstered walls, a silver gilt domed ceiling punctuated with a smaller version of the Bucich Chandeliers, and luxurious seating.
Artwork throughout the venue was all commissioned and created within Bucich’s studio and from their associated artists specifically for each room.