Lighting the way for patrons – Garden State Hotel

Melbourne’s latest go-to public bar, The Garden State Hotel, is an architectural delight. The iconic site, formerly occupied by Italian restaurant Rosati in the 1980s and before that a textile factory, is the largest pub venue in Melbourne. Spanning dining rooms, private parlours, a public bar and cocktail lounge, The Garden State Hotel is certainly a diverse venue, and lighting has been used to both differentiate between rooms and to create a common theme.

Light Project worked alongside architectural firm Techne from the project’s inception, to together imagine, plan and construct the lighting solutions that bring the space to life. Work with Techne is a professional relationship that has lasted the better part of a decade, and has included other high traffic commercial venues including Prahran Hotel and the Terminus.

We caught up with the creative forces behind the lighting solutions: Tom Curtis, from Light Project, and Jonny Mitchell, Techne’s Senior Interior Designer. The duo spoke of some of the challenges involved in a project as large-scale as this one, the design intent and decisions made.

In a venue so large and with such diversity between active spaces, it can be challenging to create a space that feels connected.

“I think the secret is in environments that were different but yet still felt part of the same message,” said Tom Curtis. “That message to me was level of comfort, ambient lighting, indirect solutions and intimacy, that then branched across different rooms or zones, from cocktail bar to courtyard to pub.”

Commonality was introduced with wall strip lighting acting as somewhat of a pathway that leads the patrons around the circular venue.

“From the entrance, the lights carry the same materiality and lighting design intent throughout the space. Whether we carry out the aged brass material down onto the little step lights, down onto the other wall lights, and the signature pieces in the space,” said Tom.

“It’s more of a sculptural installation,” explains Jonny. “So you’re actually getting a sense of the space changing with the lighting design.”

The lighting in the space is carefully considered, and applied only where needed.

“It’s about crating a soft, comfortably mood,” explains Tom.

It’s more than mood. It’s about telling a story. The lighting in the Garden State Hotel varies from small intimate settings to vast pools of light. It accents joinery and furniture, and provides a soft indirect glow to the common areas.

Watch the full interview below.


Photos: Shannon McGrath