Opening last month, Été Restaurant is pretty close to what we’d dream up if one of our Tasty Tuesday shoots sets could evolve into a real, full-blown restaurant (one can dream?). Located in Sydney’s Barangaroo, the waterside eatery showcases the work of Foolscap Studio, the project’s interior architects as well as the art directors for all graphics, artwork and branding.
Alongside recruiting an international artist with a penchant for striking lines and colour blocking, Foolscap also enlisted a local metal worker for custom outdoor furniture and leatherworker for crafted wine menus, in addition to flying in decorative modernist lighting from France to honour their Provence-meets-Sydney Harbour vision.
We chatted with Senior Interior Architect Kathrin Wheib about fitting out the 210-square-metres space. Added bonus: she helped us brush up on some rusty French, too!
What was your concept for the restaurant design?
Été means ‘Summer’ in French, and the premise of the restaurant is to convey the evocative sense of change and anticipation that comes with the seasons, inviting patrons to experience a little taste of the countryside while they dine. Both Australian and French cultural identities are inextricably tied to seasonality and landscape and so, as the menu constantly changes to reflect the arrival and departure of the seasons… so too does the interior décor.
We were inspired by chef Drew Bolton’s food philosophy, which is an homage to classic French cuisine, while embracing contemporary cooking styles and dining approaches. The interior concept draws inspiration from classic French elements, re-interpreting them for a Sydney waterside location.
Can you run us through some of the stand-out features?
The graphic concept for Été features artworks, murals, hand-drawn typefaces and little illustrations that hark back to French cookbook design from the 1980s.
We worked closely with John Zabawa, a Chicago-based artist, and also directed the production of seasonal window illustrations, floral and fresh produce installations, the menu designs and other collateral. A local metal worker created the custom outdoor furniture from our designs, and Sarah van Oosterom crafted the leather wine menus, while the decorative modernist lighting was handmade in France.
What kind of atmosphere have you tried to create here?
The client wanted a space that was inviting and down-to-earth. We used predominantly natural and raw materials, and coupled this with little luxurious details, such as leather-bound handles and table legs, carved timber edges and stone inlays.
We designed long tables, which were inspired by farmhouse trestle tables. We wanted the look and feel of communal tables to reflect a convivial, modern atmosphere, but wanted diners to have a sense of privacy, too – something that seems to be less common these days. The dividers provide demarcation of space, which we thought necessary seeing how the food on offer is refined and at a higher price-point.
Did you encounter any challenges during this project, and what kind of feedback has it received?
The project was on hold for five months and the start-stop held things up a bit, but in our industry, you quickly learn this can be part-and-parcel, and you navigate schedules accordingly. In the end, it was quite a sweet turn of events that it opened at the start of Summer [Editor’s note: remember your newest French word?], rather than back in May!
We shared some of Nikki To’s beautiful photography of the space on Instagram and people’s reactions and messages to us were incredible. We’re so pleased with the whole project’s rendering, and are so proud of John Zabawa’s work – images of the mural have been shared so much, it feels viral to us! It’s also great to see the first reviews of the restaurant rolling out over the past month or so: they’re all really positive and that’s what we exist for, to support our clients’ visions for their businesses.
One last thing, Foolscap (Fool’s-Cap? Fool-Scap?) Studio is a pretty unusual name?
Well! For starters, ‘foolscap’ is a paper size just a bit larger than A4. It’s an imperial measurement, so it’s not so common – and we’re a pretty individual lot! Traditionally it’s a lightweight paper used for drawing and of course, we do a lot of that. It’s nice to reference manual activities in this day of devices. The background story of the word is that back in the 1700s, a ‘fool’s cap’ was used as a watermark on paper. We’re happy with this etymology because we aim to never take ourselves too seriously.
100 Barangaroo Avenue,
Find out more about Foolscap Studio and see more projects on their website.