The Hudson is a new restaurant and bar at the entertainment precinct of King Street Wharf, with a focus on molecular gastronomy and an extensive wine list. The brief was to create an upmarket, exclusive atmosphere reminiscent of high end New York clubs, with a ‘wow’ factor element that would distinguish it from the surrounding venues. It needed to have the flexibility to function as a lunch venue for the tourist
and business crowd, as well as a late night bar for a younger scene, whilst making the most of its harbour side location.
The dining component was designed with the flexibility of being more prominent during the day and transform seamlessly into a more relaxed evening feel, so that the venue can take on an upmarket bar feel at night.
The sense of opulence is established from the foyers through to the rest rooms. The venue has dual entry from Lime Street. The dining foyer has a wraparound wall of linished brass tubes, and a leather padded hostess booth. At the opposite end, a wall of custom mannequin heads greets patrons at the bar entry, each bearing the image of an infamous gangster – Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, John
A strategic part of the design was to create a series of tiered platforms at the bar so that guests can enter from an elevated position, to better survey the action and gradually wind down to the dining area.
functions. A Yellowgoat chandelier of Perspex tubes hangs above a display cabinet and subtly delineates the dining and bar areas, serving to articulate or expand the spaces depending on the mode of use.
The female rest room opens up to the waterfront view – allowing the patrons to be both voyeurs and on show to the passing crowd. A series of custom elements at The Hudson create a sense of whimsy and amplify the design concept.
The main bar and dining area is dominated by a giant custom ceiling chandelier in a raised coffer. The black Barrisol background acts as an acoustic fabric as well as an oversized mirror. This reflects the shimmer of the harbour side by day, and the hum of King Street Wharf at night. Scattered throughout the ceiling are suspended chrome tipped light bulbs that imbues the venue with a warm shimmer, which is further reflected by the Barrisol ceiling and bronze mirror at the bar.
The custom mannequin heads in the bar entry was a collaboration with Sharp FX, a Melbourne based studio specialising in prosthetics & special effects make-up. A plaster cast was made from actors that resembled the nominated gangster, which was then formed into a black fibreglass mould with distinctive features added – such as cigars, hats, and clothing. The passage of time has rendered the gangsters
both subversive and enchanting, and they give a hint as to what to expect once inside the venue.