The dynamic duo Nick Travers and Justin Northrop, founders of Melbourne's Techne Architects, are at it again following the smashing success of their distinctly innovative Hotel Prahran last year. This time the creative team have applied their adroitly whimsical style to the third location of taqueria Fonda in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. With only a five month turn around time from start to finish, Techne showed their prowess for efficient and intelligent and visually compelling design.
The word fonda loosely translates to a home kitchen, and the design team tried to say true to that concept: "The front area was imagined as a terrace or balcony," said Northrop, "the central space as the house interior, and the rear as the backyard." The restaurant is the second that Techne has designed for the Fonda familia, and takes the simple Mexican casa style of the first Windsor location a step further to a more playful feel with bright stripes of color and outdoor-inspired seating. Pinks, blues, and yellows dominate the palate of painted walls which evoke abstract geometric seascapes. Northrop notes that his "favorite part of the scheme [was] the selection and application of the color palate - some elements are vivid and fun but overall the composition feels balanced."
Within the sunlit interior tiled table tops, benches covered with striped cloth, and simple wooden counters all bring to mind a picnic environment, providing a distinct feeling of being outside in an enclosed space - a technique that is particular to the Techne design DNA. The addition of bespoke furniture to Fonda was one of many "great, creative collaborations...formed to achieve custom elements in the space. Hugh McCarthy from HRM Furniture helped to realize the custom timber furniture, [and] Luke Henley from Wild Hen [was] responsible for branding and graphics."
Strings of lights criss-cross the ceiling, and exposed brick mingles effortlessly with tiled walls and counters, purposefully creating a simple, rustic vibe that reflects the cuisine's geographic inspiration. Another hallmark of the versatility of the Techne design team is their integration and elevation of existing features of the space, witnessed here in the use of copper pendants from the old fit-out as wall lights and by retaining the rectangular pattern of some of the existing windows, which with the addition of bright blue paint, recall the architecture of a traditional Mexican fonda. Hanging planters abound with fresh green vibrancy, and lattice work exists to both break up space and provide a hint of modernity to the lively interior.
Techne takes their name from an ancient Greek word meaning "to create poetically." As part of their design ethos, the team strives to consider the artistic aspects of each project, and work with thoughtful creativity. The lyrical use of bold colors, lighting, and bespoke furniture tell a distinct and fanciful story within the walls Fonda, proving once again that Techne lives up to their name.
Photography by Tom Blachford