2017 Melbourne Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Image Credit : Ari Hatzis




Project Overview

There’s a sense of occasion when dining at No.19 – an elegant, refined concept inspired by the Greek delicatessens that flourished around Melbourne in the 1950s. Minimalist concrete surfaces give the interiors modern sophistication accentuated with brass elements, Moroccan handmade tiles and beautiful upholstery to produce a calming, memorable experience.

Project Commissioner

No. 19

Project Creator


Project Brief

Following the success of their first café in Essendon – husband-and-wife team Domenic and Diana Caruso wanted to create a sophisticated but welcoming venue that would redefine casual dining and become a dynamic addition to Melbourne’s much-loved café culture.

The results respond to the brief the client has set as well as pay homage to some of Melbourne’s forgotten past with a modern interpretation of Greek delicatessens in the 1950s. The design encapsulates the client’s love for concrete whilst delivering an elegant, yet sophisticated and welcoming space that is minimalist, with impact. Different zones created in the space ensures you’re connected, even if you’re out the front versus towards the rear, you’ll get a different perspective yet feel very much part of the calmness of the venue. The atmosphere is pleasant and acoustically works for a venue of that size. We wanted to make breakfast and lunch an ‘occasion’ – one that you will enjoy, remember and return to.

Project Innovation/Need

The site offered 4.5-metre ceilings, skylights that flood the space with natural light, and a deep rectangular footprint. We started with an elegant, minimalist approach inspired by the Greek delicatessens that flourished around Melbourne in the 1950s.

At the heart of the space, a concrete service counter is accented with hand-painted green and teal tiles from Morocco; warm brass elements – arching custom-designed countertop lamps and a slender foot rail – reinforce the venue’s refined aesthetic. At intervals, steel framing with lighting becomes a sculptural element, providing a sense of intimacy without breaking up the café’s openness. Toward the rear of the space, the semi-open kitchen is surrounded by some of the best seats in the house. At the front, a custom-designed bench with timber tabletops offers street-side dining. Careful consideration in the configuration of this seating connects diners outside with the interiors, in a similar way, the alcove by the door was tailored to accommodate orders to go. By maximising the potential of the site, the intention was to redefine the past inspired by the 1950s delicatessens in Melbourne and provide a hospitality experience worthy of returning to that represents and evolves the café culture embraced by the locals.

Design Challenge

A key priority in this project was to develop a strong relationship between each dining zone as well as the consumer facing branded elements to elevate the overall experience. It was important that every element – from the furniture selected, to the refined finishes, to the menus and coasters and even the deli paper – retained a level of elegance, complimenting and strengthening the overall interior experience. Particular linkage to brand and interiors include incorporation of the upholstery palette, the classic houndstooth pattern and brass finishes. The challenge was to deliver an entire experience, from the moment a customer enters, through to when they leave.


Our approach to sustainability has always been to maximise a site’s potential. With 4.5-metre ceilings and skylights throughout that flood the space within, the floor plan we developed considered the generous ceiling heights and existing location of the skylights. Seating arrangement and the main bar is positioned to capture the transition of light throughout the day, resulting in a subtle mood change from morning to evening service. We made a conscious decision to use LED lighting throughout the entire fitout, even in our lighting feature as you walk through to the bathrooms.

Given the site’s size, we needed to also be mindful of how sound travels from all corners of the venue. Woven Image’s Echopanel product was used in this instance as an environmentally sustainable material which lines the ceiling providing good acoustic properties throughout.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors, with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes, aesthetic presentation and functionality. Consideration also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
More Details