Eat Drink Design Awards 2022: Best Cafe Design

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Jury’s comment

Work within a the airport to find joy in an anonymous layout shell and to achieve a high-quality design result are both remarkable achievements. The Common meets these criteria and goes well beyond, offering an excellent airside dining experience. This experience is uniquely designed to give arriving domestic visitors a ‘taste’ of Queensland through vibrant colour, rich materiality, light and openness. Visually inspired by the seaside lifestyle that Queensland possesses along its coastline, The Common was conceptualized much like an abstract painting. It is generously furnished with pieces designed in Australia by Ross Gardam, DesignByThem and Linear Standard. Light fixtures, hardware, and custom finishes such as polished plaster were installed, with a color palette specifically designed for this particular installation. The result gives this transitional space a memorable sense of place and identity. It is the opposite of an airport place “without place”, working both with and against the homogeneity of the decor. It proves that good Australian design has a role to play in even the most generic of social and civic spaces, the 21st century airport.

Design statement

Situated along the exterior glazing line of the terminal building at Brisbane Domestic Airport, The Common enjoys views of the airside apron and elevated exposure to the concourse walkway. Bold shapes, a saturated color palette and a playful energy set the cafe apart in the bustling yet visually seamless airport environment. The client was looking for a location with a strong visual identity and broad appeal to customers, which enhanced the latent qualities offered by an east-facing rental seen “in the round”. The design guidelines for the rentals stated that the venue should reflect “the Queensland experience”. The design was approached with an abstract rather than literal reference to the bright, relaxed vibe of beachside living. Abundant daylight is filtered and colored by fabric shades, producing a diffused golden glow along the length of the space. Contoured ceramic tile, terrazzo and color-matched microcement finishes provide a textured earth-toned base, complemented by the sand-colored countertop and Venetian plaster. Analogous to scattered beach accessories, the palette is accented by branding and custom-designed fixtures, including a hanging bar display, menu boards, a heat lamp, and playfully shaped oversized pendant lights.

The Common, Brisbane Airport Domestic Terminal, is built on the lands of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples.

Project credits

Designate Sullivan Skinner group project Tahnee Sullivan, Christopher Skinner

See the full image gallery on the Eat Drink Design Awards website.

The 2022 Eat Drink Design Awards are organized by Architecture Media and supported by Lead Partner James Richardson Furniture, Lead Partner Blind Corner, Supporting Partners Rock, No Rock and Latitude, and partner of the Stomping Ground event.

The Eat Drink Design Awards are endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects and the Design Institute of Australia.

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