Endorsed by

Garagistes wine and food bar

A rough, stripped-back shell is furnished with honest materials, making Garagistes wine and food bar in Tasmania a unique dining experience.

As evidenced by the recent re-emergence of farmers’ markets and restaurants based on food miles, there is a strong movement towards dining experiences grounded by local flavour and feel. Located just on the edge of Hobart’s CBD, Garagistes is a wine and food bar that embraces the spirit of these locale-based movements through its produce and its interior design.

At the point at which this old garage became available, restaurant co-owners Luke Burgess, Katrina Birchmeier and Kirk Richardson had been scouring Hobart for some time. The existing interior was very rough around the edges, but it matched a venture that they always hoped would retain a “rogue element.” The name Garagistes – drawn from a maverick group of Bordeaux wine makers – sleeved perfectly to the space.

Garagistes wine and food bar, in Hobart, by Paul Johnston Architects.

Garagistes wine and food bar, in Hobart, by Paul Johnston Architects.

Image: Luke Burgess

With only one power point, no lights, a sawtooth roof, exposed timber beams and painted brick, the garage offered character in spades. The trio entered into a collaborative process with Paul Johnston Architects, with all members engaging in a hands-on evolution of the design. Richardson took the lead throughout the construction phase, selecting materials and developing details in collaboration with Johnston, Burgess and Birchmeier.

The intention was to create a discreet dining space that would be found via word-of-mouth rather than walk-by trade. True to this idea, the entry is defined by minimalist signage on a large, dark, steel-clad pivot door, which is open when the restaurant is serving. The equally dark, low ceiling portal beyond this door serves to separate the dining space from the street and establish contrast with the lofty dining room. Apart from the structured entry, the remainder of the interior reads like furniture placed within a tall, stripped-back container. The bar and kitchen are part of this room, separated only by a long servery bench. This openness was a priority for chef Luke Burgess, who wanted to maintain visual connection to his guests, gauging their reactions upon first taste. He also wanted cooking staff to enjoy a naturally lit space for working.

<!— /5912001/AAU_AU_MR_side_300x250 —> <div id=’div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-2-mob’> <script> googletag.cmd.push(function() { // googletag.pubads().refresh([gptRespAdSlots[0]]); googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-2-mob’); }); </script> </div>

Critical to the concept is a series of shared tables for diners, furnished with hand-thrown crockery by Ben Richardson. The robust but minimalist Tasmanian oak tables designed and made by Evan Hancock run across the space, seating ten each on custom stools by Dieu Tan. At a conceptual level, this layout reinforces the team’s interest in the Danish idea of hygge, roughly translating as cosy, relaxed intimacy. Pragmatically, it establishes an environment where the food sells itself, with adjacent guests able to share impressions of the cuisine.

There is a directness and honesty to the interior of this restaurant that has emerged from the concept and the budget. By choosing pre-finished materials – like the red-edged form ply of the side wall, the charcoal Echopanel for the ceiling, or the hot-rolled steel cladding of the rear service zone – the team has refined but maintained some of the raw character. During the day, the skylit space is tactile and alive, while at night focused lighting softens the semi-industrial finishes. I’m particularly fond of the way the steel cladding takes on a velvety appearance when cloaked with shadow and I applaud the choice of ceiling cladding, which creates an ideal dining acoustic. Most of all, I love the small, illuminated window into the curing room, which transforms hanging meat into an artful folly, while subconsciously reminding diners about the ideas of time and proximity embedded in the culinary approach.


Design practice
Paul Johnston Architects
Market Place, Hobart, Tas, Australia
Project Team
Paul Johnston, Erin Rockliffe, Kirk Richardson
Builder Gavin Burgess Builders, Kirk Richardson
Graphic design Sheila Alati Design
Seating design & construction Dieu Tan
Table design & construction Evan Hancock
Site details
Location 103 Murray Street,  Hobart,  Tas,  Australia
Number of stories 1
Site type Urban
Category Interiors
Type Hospitality, Restaurants
Project Details
Status Built
Client Garagistes
Website Garagistes



Published online: 13 Sep 2011
Words: Judith Abell
Images: Luke Burgess


Artichoke, June 2011

Related topics

More projects

See all
The house occupies a site that, for two decades, had been maintained as a fenced private lawn. A cloister at the street corner preserves the memory of this emptiness. ‘Memory palace’: Subiaco House

A new house in Perth at once recollects and reconsiders the suburban house, employing a garden room to mediate between individual and collective suburban life.

The south facade overlooks a park and Fitzroy Town Hall. Two courtyard houses occupy the top floor, their courtyards seemingly carved out of the glazing. Community, not commodity: Whitlam Place

A self-initiated housing venture in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, replete with conceptual clarity, delicate form-making and extraordinary quality of finish, is a rare counterpoint to the uniformity …

Concrete panels on the facade recede, tilt and fold to provide solar protection yet also reveal sliced silhouettes of life within. A dramatically cantilevered volume accommodates a recital hall. Coalescence of art and city life: The Ian Potter Southbank Centre

The new home of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music is a sensuous architectural vessel that supports musical learning as it mediates between performer, audience and …

Porosity at the three public-street frontages, 
in particular the arcade on James Street, strengthens the building’s civic gestures. Urbane luxury: The Calile Hotel

A new hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley is evocative of luxury tropical resorts yet also carefully assimilates into the emerging urban character of the James …