Nestled in a row of Victorian terraces in Melbourne’s South Fitzroy, Poodle Bar – Bistro places patrons at the centre of a modern interpretation of ‘chiaroscuro’. Bergman – Co have created a scheme that melds together the essence of previous times with the contemporary, providing spaces for customers to socialise or hide away in.
The Bar unfolds with a series of spaces, each with its own distinct character. Some moments are almost cave-like. Deep brown leather sits alongside delicious burgundy tones, creating a sense of intimate warmth perfect for an evening for two. On the other hand, large upholstered L-shaped booths invite larger groups to share in conversation against a backdrop of blue-stained bricks.
Dark wood panelling, considered treatment of floors and walls, and alternate ground surfaces “bring ambience to a space that houses a walk-up bar reminiscent of the 1930’s”, explains Wendy Bergman, creative director of her eponymous practice.
Velvet, leather, and marble are layered to create a decadent and luxurious atmosphere designed to invoke a sense of nostalgia. There is a romantic, textural representation of the past, that simultaneously manages to remain firmly rooted in the contemporary.
Moving through the archway doors can be likened to walking through a series of portals, “each acting as a conduit to a different scene”, says Bergman, who compares the experience to “being in a gallery, as one’s eyes must adjust to the varying levels of light and shade as the rooms are traversed”.
The stair acts as a lightwell, the introduction of warm light signalling that one is entering a new zone. A private dining room with seating for twelve unfolds with a moody atmosphere – think pull out drink trays shrouded by dimly lit wall sconces. The tone of the venue continues onto an outdoor terrace that reminds those inside they have not travelled back in time but are still very much in the present.
Bergman – Co have explored the relationship between light and shade, past and present, creating a character-filled, decadent bar that leaves us wanting more. Better put Poodle on your list when Melbourne’s strict COVID lockdown has lifted.