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Brisbane (Mini) City Guide


25th October, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 25th October 2012

Our AMAZING illustrated map of Brisbane's Fortitude Valley highlights was created by Melbourne based Alice Oehr.  We nearly KILLED her with all the revisions, thankyou so much Alice!

As is our tradition every time we run a week of city-specific content, today we present to you TDF's Brisbane (Mini) City Guide!

I say 'Mini' as a disclaimer really.  Clearly we've only scratched the surface of Brisbane's highlights, focussing our attention mainly on the Fortitude Valley area, which presents the most condensed pocket of exellent retail (both for the home and fashion), plus plenty of fab eating and coffee spots.

If you have only one weekend here I'd recommend FIRST UP a trip to GOMA and QAG (Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery) which sit side by side in South Brisbane on the banks of the Brisbane River, and are both seriously knock-your-socks-off amazing.  On day two, a stroll along tree-lined James st in 'The Valley' is super lovely, extending to the galleries in New Farm and / or the fabulous Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe for lunch if your legs will take you!

In addition to highlighting a few of the shops and sights which stood out during my own visit to Brisbane a few months back, in editing this guide we've also enlisted the help of a couple of savvy locals - because you know, writing a city guide as an out-of-towner is fraught with danger!  We're very grateful to Julian Hutton of The Meander Journal who recommended and contributed reviews on a handful of the businesses listed below.  Brisbane-born Megan Morton also sent us a bunch of inspired recommendations and introductions too!

Massive thanks to Brisbane-based photographer Toby Scott for his superb photos, and for squeezing so many shops into 1.5 days!  Also, to Melbourne illustrator Alice Oehr once again for her epic work on our fabulous city guide map, paying homage to the PINEAPPLE because you know, it's the motif of the moment!  And lastly to TDF's trusty editorial assistant Lisa Marie Corso for liasing with all the business-owners, and co-editing this guide with the utmost attention to detail.

We hope this little round-up proves helpful next time you're in the sunny city!

1. Jardan

Jardan's  Brisbane showroom and retail store.  Photo - Shantanu Starick

It's no secret I am a big fan of Australian furniture manufacturer Jardan.  If you find yourself in Brisbane it is well worth checking out their Brisbane showroom because this is their only retail store which is open to the public!  Alongside their ever growing range of GECA certified, Australian made furniture, you'll also find a stunning collection of homewares, lighting, soft furnishings and accessories from various local and international designers.

1045 Ann Street
Fortitude Valley


The Limes Hotel, Fortitude Valley.  Photo supplied.

Ever since it first opened in 2008 I  have been dying to stay at Limes Hotel in Brisbane, designed by superstar Argentinian / Brisbane designer Alexander Lotersztain of Derlot.  The hotel is small (just 21 rooms) but perfectly proportioned and detailed - and the rooftop bar is stunning (though it does get very busy on the weekends!).

There is something very unique about this boutique hotel - it has a definite international flavour and doesn't feel at all like any other hotel I've stayed in on home soil.  Designed with striking contemporary features which extend from the buildings facade right down to it's stationery - Limes was the first Australian member of the prestigious Design Hotels Group.  Every detail is perfectly executed - I was particularly impressed that each room had its own coffee machine for proper morning coffee.  So simple, but these are the things which really set Limes apart from the usual hotel room experience!

Staying here basically makes you feel like someone who writes for Monocle Magazine. Which has GOT to be a good thing.

Limes Hotel
42 Constance Street
Fortitude Valley

3. Sourced Grocer

Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe.  Photo - Toby Scott

Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe.  Photos - Toby Scott

This warehouse-style space in Teneriffe sells seasonal organic fruit and veg, meat, cheeses, flowers and delicious artisan products. It feels like a curated collection of good, wholesome food. There's a cafe too, so you can hang out and enjoy the people and the industrial-chic decor. - Julian

Sourced Grocer
11 Florence Street

4. The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe in Fortitude Valley.  Photo - Toby Scott

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe in Fortitude Valley.  Photos - Toby Scott

The concept behind this cafe-workspace venue known to locals as The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe is great - provide a cool space with resources for people to work, meet and collaborate, with food and coffee close at hand. It's perfect for creative folk. Previously on Vulture Street in West End, with desks, computers and a boardroom for hire, it's now moved to a semi-industrial space in The Valley. - Julian

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe
22 Agnes Street
Fortitude Valley

5. Winn Lane (inc. Atavist Books, the outpost)

Winn Lane - Brisbane's answer to laneway retail.  Photo - Toby Scott

Flamingo Cafe in Winn Lane.  Photo - Toby Scott

Atavist Books in Winn Lane.  Photo - Toby Scott

Atavist Books in Winn Lane.  Photo - Toby Scott

This Fortitude Valley laneway is home to a collection of small independent stores. Not only do the shops back local creative talent, they also collaborate to create events, which lends Winn Lane a really nice community feel. There's a lovely bunch of people behind it, so it's no surprise that it's something special.

Atavist Books is one of Winn Lane's main drawcards.  Visiting this tiny, cosy store feels like being inside the garden shed of an eccentric book lover. Tucked away at the very end of the Lane, it has loads of character – arty window displays, tall shelves full of quality pre-loved reads, plus artist books and independent publications.  A lovely little shrine to the written word. - Julian

Winn Lane - incorporating Atavist Books, The Outpost, Flamingo Cafe and more
Winn Street
Fortitude Valley

The Outpost store at Winn Lane.  Photo - Toby Scott

6. Kova Lifestyle

Kova Lifestyle.  Photo - Toby Scott

Details at Kova Lifestyle.  Photo - Toby Scott

Kova Lifestyle is a good old fashioned homewares and gift store with an impressively varied range of home accessories, lighting, furniture and even fashion and footwear. For gifts, from tableware to candles to bath and body products and coffee tables books, Kova is the perfect one-stop shop.

Kova Lifestyle
23 James Street
Fortitude Valley

7. D.I.G Design Interior Garden

D.I.G Design Interior Garden .  Photo - Toby Scott

One thing you notice immediately as a Melbournian is Brisbane is the lush greenery everywhere (it's like Sydney x 10) - it feels as if the whole city is just draped in glossy green foliage!  One of the prettiest shops on James St is D.I.G - Design Interior Garden, which has a courtyard full of gorgeous plants and garden accessories for all those green-thumbed locals.  You'll also find a selection of homewares inside too.

D.I.G Design Interior Garden
1/49 James Street
Fortitude Valley

8. Easton Pearson

Easton Pearson store in James st, Fortitude Valley.  Photo supplied.

One of Brisbane's most celebrated creative partnerships is that of Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, who launched their much respected fashion label, Easton Pearson in 1989.  Their James st store acts at Easton Pearson's 'flagship' sorts - in fact, EP's head office is only a hop, skip and a jump away from here, so you might even spot Pamela or Lydia in person if you're lucky!

The store is a stunning contemporary space, the perfect backdrop for Easton Pearson's vibrant and highly detailed collections.  The shop is laced with sweet eclectic details - such as antique cabinets filled with Pineapples!  Pineapples are a special motif for Easton Pearson - traditionally they are a symbol meaning 'Welcome'.

Easton Pearson
60 James Street
Fortitude Valley

9. The Modern Furniture Store

Michael Josephson , co-owner of The Modern Furniture Store.  Photo - Toby Scott


The Modern Furniture Store  Photo - Toby Scott

I stumbled across The Modern Furniture Store quite by accident and I'm so glad I did!  This excellent furniture and interiors store just off the main drag of James st combines Scandinavian designed furniture with homewares, lighting and soft furnishings from   brands such as Muuto and Marimekko.  It's VERY colourful in there!

Sydneysiders will be pleased to know The Modern Furniture Store owners Michael and Melissa Josephson will be opening a store in Manly in January!  Their extensive range is also available to purchase online.

The Modern Furniture Store
161a Arthur Street
Fortitude Valley

10. Chelsea De Luca

Chelsea De Luca.  Photo - Toby Scott

Chelsea De Luca.  Photo - Toby Scott

Chelsea De Luca is a self taught jewellery designer, who left a job in advertising in 2004 to pursue her dream of having her own accessories label.   By 2008 she had opened her first flagship store - an elegant boutique at the top of the hill on James St, New Farm.   This polished retail space is the perfect extension of Chelsea's brand - the interior oozes old world glamour and decadence.  Chelsea De Luca's art deco inspired jewels are handcrafted in Brisbane.

Chelsea De Luca
76 James Street
New Farm

11. Jan Murphy Gallery

Jan Murphy Gallery in Fortitude Valley. Current exhibition (pictured) - Made of Everything by Lara Merrett, until November 3rd 2012.  Photo - Toby Scott

Jan Murphy Gallery in Fortitude Valley. Current exhibition (pictured) - Made of Everything by Lara Merrett, until November 3rd 2012.  Photo - Toby Scott

Jan Murphy Gallery in Brunswick st, Fortitude Valley is one of the city's most respected privately run galleries.  Now in its 17th year of operation, the gallery represents some of the Australia's hottest contemporary artists - names such as Kirra Jamison, Rhys LeeAdam LesterBen Quilty and Victoria Reichelt to list just a few.

I am secretly rather excited that we caught Lara Merrett's current show in these shots!  Oh LORD what I wouldn't do for one of these exquisite paintings by Sydney-based Merrett who we interviewed back in March.

Jan Murphy Gallery
486 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley

12. Edwina Corlette Gallery

Edwina Corlette in her New Farm Gallery - Edwina Corlette Gallery.  Artwork by Miranda Skoczek.  Photo - Toby Scott

Edwina Corlette Gallery.  Artwork by Miranda Skoczek.  Photo - Toby Scott

Edwina Corlette Gallery is another of Brisbane's dynamic commercial galleries, representing a diverse group of contemporary artists including Julian Meagher, Mark Whalen and Miranda Skoczek.  As will you know if you're a regular TDF reader (!!) Miranda Skoczek's current exhibition, Spirit Garden, is here until November 3rd 2012.

Edwina Corlette Gallery
555 Brunswick Street
New Farm

13. Black and Spiro

Black & Spiro.  Photo - Toby Scott.

Black & Spiro interior.  Photo - Toby Scott.

Detail at Black & Spiro.  I KNOW you are going to ask me what this wallpaper is.  I would very much like to know myself.  *UPDATE this wallpaper is 'Round and Round the Garden' from Anna Spiro's own collaboration with Porters Paints!  Thanks to Tina L for this info! Photo - Toby Scott.

It would be fair to say that interior designer, retailer and blogger Anna Spiro has somewhat of a cult following in Brisbane.  Her blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things, has an incredibly loyal readership, having been around since 2006 (that's 2 years longer than TDF!), whilst Anna's store, Black & Spiro, has an army of local fans and supporters - as evidenced by the incredible turnout last month at the inaugural Black & Spiro Spring Flea Market!  AMAZING.  There is talk of another one at Christmas-time...

Hats off to Anna for building such an incredible following and juggling her design clients with her busy retail store and all manner of other projects and events!  Her supremely pretty New Farm store is a must-visit!

Black and Spiro
768 Brunswick Street
New Farm


View from GOMA looking towards the State Library.  Mainly, I got a bit obsessed with the FOLIAGE.  Photo - Lucy Feagins.

My most FAVOURITE artwork at GOMA, a mirror mosaic piece, around 12m long, entitled Lightning for Neda (2009) by Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian.  This one really did give me goosebumps.  Incredible.  Photo - Lucy Feagins.

GOMA is even MORE amazing than everyone who has ever raved about it has told you.  Just go there.  Queensland Art Gallery, which sits alongside GOMA on the banks of the Brisbane River, gets a lot less hype, yet is also seriously brilliant.  It's the quiet achiever of the two.

Give yourself a day and visit both - the grounds connecting the buildings are so idyllic and again dripping with lush green foliage, whilst The GOMA Café Bistro is the perfect riverfront spot for lunch or a late afternoon vino.  (It will be open late on Friday nights this summer starting from November 16th).

Stanley Place
South Bank


We couldn't possibly check out everything in person, but these additional businesses and resources come highly recommended too!

· The Good Guide 
· St Barts

· The Junk Bar
· Scotty's Cafe
· The Survey Co.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email