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From the Resene News - issue 1/2017

Celebration of scale - Bar Machiavelli

From the Resene Total Colour Awards gallery of entries

Resene Total Colour Awards 2016
Celebration of scale - Bar Machiavelli

Bar Machiavelli is the offshoot of Machiavelli, an institution in the ever-changing Sydney restaurant scene for more than thirty years, belonging to the Toppi family. Paola Toppi learnt the craft of Italian cooking from her mother, Giovanna, who just celebrated her 80th birthday and still cooks every night in the original Machiavelli restaurant. Paola wanted to create a new, younger and perhaps hipper Machiavelli venue, both bar and restaurant, open late into the night. Part of her brief was to create a very seductive interior in which to eat delicious pasta and drink fabulous wine before “going home to make love.”

The building, a c.1915 tyre factory in Rushcutters Bay has an incredible sense of age and patina and a very New York-industrial feel to it. As the budget was limited creativity was needed - all the more of a challenge as the space is enormous, around 750 square metres (including kitchens, bathrooms etc) with ceilings that soar to over 15 metres in the centre of the dining room. The best way forward was to celebrate the scale of the cavernous space and to use colour and lighting to create intimacy and warmth. The rich, Renaissance-like palette of gold, purple and red sits beautifully within the very earthy, industrial shell of the tyre factory and plays on Paola’s Italian heritage.

The furnishings are simple, like you might find in a 1930s Italian café or brasserie. The bar sits in the middle of the room like a giant gold sculpture, glowing and slightly at odds with the industrial style of the room. The magnificent mural on the back wall, painted by British artist, Robert Doble as well as the projections of Italian film stars and street scenes that adorn the 100+ year old brick walls bring a sense of theatre to the space, highlighting the scale of the space.

Bar Machiavelli - a very seductive interior in which to eat delicious pasta and drink fabulous wine...


The colour palette is designed to be both elegant and sexy, but also a little bit left-of-field. It also needed to play on the client’s Italian heritage. Looking to the rich colours of Ancient Rome and also the Italian Renaissance, particularly Florence under the Medicis, a palette of those colours most conducive for eating and for night time – purple, gold and red - that also sat well with the predominantly earthy and brown, brick-clad industrial shell were chosen. The background colour of the mural was particularly important - not only is Resene Castro (purple red) a magnificent colour for the space but it also has a sense it could have been a colour of the emperors of Imperial Rome, playing on the Italian heritage.

The gold bar feature has been created using Resene Enamacryl Metallic in Resene Gold Dust (gold metallic), complemented by the Resene Alabaster (blackened white) on the brick wall, and the mural wall in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Castro and Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel in Resene Alabaster. The stairs and woodwork are also Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel, in Resene Black. The bathrooms are a celebration of colour, with Resene Hippie Pink (vibrant pink) for the females and Resene Scaramanga (slate green) for the males.

Apart from the challenge of creating intimacy in such an enormous space, 10 Neild Avenue is infamous in the Sydney restaurant scene as two very high profile restaurants have inhabited the space over the past five years, both ending in equally high profile failure. It’s the ultimate ‘white elephant’ so to speak. To turn the fortunes around needed excellent design, as well as the talents of Paola with her combination of good, old school Italian cuisine and personalised service, which she has achieved with consistently booked out nights and reviews and articles in many major publications.

Bar Machiavelli by Jason Mowen won the Resene Total Colour Commercial Interior Retail + Public Colour Maestro Award 2016. The judges thought “the richness and layering of materials and elegant colours creates an uber-glamorous feel.

The amazing use of colour in murals carefully washed onto the challenging texture of the brick wall creates colour that appears to be growing out of the wall and has been there forever. Timeless and aged, the purposefully weathered palette adds a soft and sensual backdrop.

Commanding attention is the striking gold bar, dazzling in gold metallic paint. Rich materials and hues are combined into this artfully beautiful theme with Imperial Roman colours grounded and highlighted with the unforgettable one of a kind gold bar.”

Building contractor: APM Australia
Client: Paola Toppi
Interior designer: Jason Mowen
Mural artist: Robert Doble
Painting contractor: White Acme
Photographer: Anson Smart
Projections: Ben Alcott

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