Of all the rooms in our homes to draw attention during the confinement that defined last year, the bathroom led the charge. Part cleansing space and part sanctuary, it became both a place of solace and necessary sanitation. It’s in this environment that Australian tapware manufacturer Astra Walker opened its first Queensland showroom in Brisbane. After more than 20 years of designing and creating some of the most beautifully resolved tapware on the market, Astra Walker is now a presence in the vibrant James Street precinct in Fortitude Valley.
Designed by local architects Richards - Spence, the 55sqm interior is the second of Astra Walker’s standalone showrooms, following the success of the Sydney Paddington store, completed in 2018. This space marks the coming of age for this quietly sophisticated brand, which has built its name on the ability to respond to the growing desire from local designers and architects for high functioning, luxury tapware.If ever there was reason to refer to tapware as the jewellery of the bathroom, these contemporary pieces are it. Lines are clean and classic while being completely en pointe with current design directions, which is at the heart of the Astra Walker philosophy.
Architect Ingrid Richards from Richards - Spence said the bijou showroom‘s concept was to envelop the entire space, including the utility room at the rear, for visitors to see and experience the products for themselves.The interior palette is deliberately restrained in ecru tones, putting the focus on the tapware, with an island bench the centrepiece to draw visitors inside. This is the main hub where everything comes together, where decisions are made, where dreams of the sanctuary are formed. The central unit’s considered simplicity creates an uncluttered blank canvas where tapware, tiles, and benchtop materials become their own mood board. Visitors are encouraged to play with the materiality and immerse themselves in creating a well-being environment that will replenish and recharge.
The showroom’s galley-style layout presents as a series of bays with the product on one side, where private moments with individual pieces from every range can be enjoyed. The side facing the street has a warmly lit grid-style display, like little apartment windows where mixers from the Icon collection are the residents.Every aspect of the monastic interior has been deliberately designed to give the strongest voice to the Australian-made collection, including several new ranges, allowing clients to clearly delineate between even the smallest details.
Adjustable spotlights from Iguzzini set into the ceiling to provide directional light that can be enjoyed day or night, while low-key landscaping outside the side window is a gentle reminder of the biophilic qualities of the products within.Brand director and co-founder at Astra Walker, Andrew Shirtliff, said the concept showrooms provide a space where clients can immerse themselves in their brand. “With a passion for timeless design, quality, and reliability, clients need to be able to touch and feel our product,” said Andrew.
“Local architect Ingrid Richards, whose work reflects the language of the city of Brisbane, was critical in bringing our vision for the James Street showroom to life,” he said. According to Richards, every material choice adds a layer to the story – from the concrete render of the central island unit to the smoother finish of the two-pack cabinets, creating an experience that is both indulgent and cleansing.
“You are not feeling overwhelmed by the interior, but the interior needs to hold its own at the same time. You can bring a client in, and it’s easier to understand that process,” explained the architect.“It is easy to get distracted if there is too much going on. Anything that is not Astra Walker really sits back.”