A vibrant slice of Latin American culture a mere 5.5km north of Melbourne’s central business district, Lady Carolina fuses the buzzing, lively atmosphere of traditional Latin American dining and design with the unique exterior of its Brunswick East surrounds, taking patrons on a holiday the second they set foot in the venue.
Having worked on the branding for Lady Carolina, Biasol: Design Studio envisioned two separate dining areas. This opened up the space on a practical level by broadening the restaurant’s clientele while also enabling them to draw on different Latin American cultural elements during the design process. The result is a sultry, more formal indoor restaurant, countered by a relaxed, fun outdoor Cantina, playing on the Melbourne market’s fascination with street food and vibrant street culture. Biasol created an indoor/outdoor dining experience where patrons are truly taken on a journey through Latin America, transported to another time and place unique to any other dining and design experience the city has to offer.
Consisting of a Ceviche bar and an a la carte dining area, the formal restaurant section of Lady Carolina juxtaposes the gritty street feel of both Latin America and the surrounding suburb with the formality and intimacy of a more traditional restaurant space. The pre-existing beer hall space was stripped back, removing all existing internal walls and lining to reveal exposed brickwork, while paints were layered and materials stripped back to create the gritty depth the client desired.
It was imperative that Biasol: Design Studio take Lady Carolina patrons on a journey as they stepped into the venue, and this idea of being transported to an exotic destination shaped each individual design choice. Biasol spent a great deal of time researching Latin American culture and traditional Latin design as authenticity was at the heart of the project, resulting in a selection of cultural timbers and a Cuban turquoise feature wall being chosen. The tiles used across the bar were specifically designed and hand cut and laid for the Lady Carolina space, while rich, deep timber tones kept the overall mood of the indoor dining space intimate.
Access to natural light was maximised courtesy of an outdoor dining area authentically reflecting the bright, bustling menu concept and style of dining promoted through the Latin American theme. Local artist Colin Sheppard was engaged to paint the walls of the Latin Street Kitchen with signage inspired by traditional, Latin street art. The outdoor area was previously exposed to the elements so they were faced with the challenge of creating a space which could be utilised all year round, protecting diners from the elements while still reflecting the vibrant feel of the Latin Street Kitchen. They constructed a fully undercover roof which was architecturally intriguing while allowing natural light to pour in. The restaurant’s staff were recruited to aid in re-painting some of the space’s existing furniture, giving the space an underlying feeling of sharing and community, an idea integral to Latin American dining and culture.
The Lady Carolina experience is unique and striking in both its menu and design, so Biasol felt it was imperative to instill a sense of familiarity in the space to make local customers feel welcome. To achieve this, existing features were re-purposed where possible to make the most of both the space and the budget as well as maintaining the site’s facade to echo the architecture of the local area. This also heightened the experience of walking through the front door, as patrons are transported from an East Brunswick street and thrust into the heart of Latin America. The overall design process was a collaborative one, fusing the creative visions of both Biasol: Design Studio & Elle Critchley Design. The result is a space that reflects the personality of Lady Carolina- a scallywag, an icon, a cigar-smoking-heroine with attitude.