The brief: to create a “third place’. A refuge between work and home responsibilities; a place to escape and be whoever you want to be. And share this with like-minded inner urbanites and friends in style. The renovations also needed to attract new love to three under-performing yet fully renovated floors above and below. Time to reclaim the hotel’s natural landmark status on one of Sydney’s most prominent corners.
The Oxford Bar is a postcard from the future. Fun, free and fabulous.
Recent restrictive lockout laws had decimated the business. A re-positioning and focus away from late night bulk beverage was needed to survive. A complete rebrand was devised around the concept of “Progressively Cosmopolitan” in all day café/bar model.
Many hours were spent defining who our patrons would be and what would be needed for response in the interior customer experience. The retro feel, with current edge. Familiar yet progressive. The vibrant but restricted colour palette. Expressivet yet balanced.
Richly patterned and flooded with colour, the décor expresses the exuberance and diversity that the local area is famous for.
Retro inspired finishes abound, all using state of the art production techniques. Artisans and specialist fabricators lend each custom item personality whilst pushing manufacturing boundaries: The macramé wall. Hand dyed bright fluorescent orange.
The “Cindy” chandeliers. A sweep of legs in laser-cut plywood kick a can-can above the hand-painted bloomer-inspired sconce, in tribute to the Southern Hemisphere’s epicentre of drag. (Local gal, and friend, Cindy Pastel is the real Priscilla the movie was based upon).
A house party too; the layout creates a home-style space with a circuit lap to easily circulate in comfort. No empty space to awkwardly traverse. And no dead-ends. Pinch points allow that magical proximity for new friends to be made. And freely move on by if required.
The seating design creates interaction. Deep diner-style booths talk to tall bar two seaters. Upholstered banquettes face out into the room with wide open arms. Every seat is raised to a common eye level – so everyone is part of the action, whether seated or standing. No one feels isolated or lonely. Vertical colour bands on joinery give the impression of being busy when quiet. Easy to reconfigure, the modular units are easily rolled out on their trolley to create a dance floor for big party nights.
The outdoor terrace has to be the real performer here. It’s the first space to fill up. Once a windswept no-mans land, simple artificial hedges, timber cladding and branded trellis create a protected magic garden on the street. Especially alive at night with the festoon and fairy lights adding sparkle and joy to complement the palm-tree silhouette murals. It’s the perfect perch to watch the pretty people parade go by, especially since you’re shielded from wind and occasional riff-raff.
Sales have dramatically improved and completely changed their make-up: Bottles of wine instead of bulk draught beer. Early dinner menu flying out the door instead of late night shots. Pre-show drink and nibbles instead of early morning roadie. It’s also led to many more enquiries and bookings on the other 3 levels of the hotel.
From the cheeky alpine scene in the smoking terrace to the “Pull here” tab bar cladding, the space is redolent in familiar yet contemporary icons. Customers are making it their own. The regulars come to eat well, and drink socially. It’s all about celebrating the little things that join us together. A happy place once again.