Bicycle Thieves by Pierce Widera

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    Melbourne-based interior design studio Pierce Widera draw on the local European spirit to create an Italian-inspired eatery in the heart of East Melbourne.

    Located off High Street in Melbourne’s eastern suburb of Northcote, Bicycle Thieves by Pierce Widera is an eatery that pays homage to its Italian namesake. Set on street level, the industrial framework incorporates softer, contemporary layers which pay tribute to the neighbourhood’s historic Italian heritage.

    Drawing on shared cultural understanding is a common thread that founding partners and directors Amy Pierce and Nat Widera have been known for delivering under their Melbourne-based practice; Pierce Widera. Establishing themselves firmly on the hospitality and commercial design scene in 2017, weaving a sense of inclusion and cultural celebration into their designs has played a pivotal role in engaging surrounding communities and enhancing the way people experience the space.

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    The concept behind Bicycle Thieves was to reproduce a modern interpretation of the iconic 1948 film Bicycle Thieves; hence the name. Drawing on a palette of timeless mid-century materials, standout details include the polished, curved, chrome banquette frames which are a modern nod to the traditional bicycle frame. Soft raspberry and olive leathers remind us of stitched bicycle saddles and rich timber forms juxtapose alongside the contemporary concrete slab flooring.

    Lighting was carefully considered to inform different zones throughout the eatery. It’s a strategic move, given that Bicycle Thieves encompasses a wide open, industrial layout – which extends beyond to the portal that frames the Italian-inspired kitchen. To differentiate and build both communal and intimate dining zones, Pierce Widera employed a number of feature lighting options.

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    Linear pendants situated above the main bar provide both task lighting and a design statement. Oversized, orb-like globe pendants above the large steel communal tables add a warm glow as well as fun, European café feel. The modern, white track lighting that outlines the spatial perimeter helps to frame the banquette dining areas.

    Utmost respect has been paid to craftsmanship and bespoke joinery throughout the space. A series of long, concave tiles in soft grey complement the core material palette, while the custom, backlit logo embedded on dark timber panelling adds a handcrafted touch. The brass arches in the walkway and brass strip dividers on the banquettes bring a sense of opulence and attention to detail.

    Joinery provides a play on proportion, adding to the visual landscape. There are plenty of seating options; from traditional bench seating, sculptural communal tables for large groups, to high standing ledges inspired by traditional Italian coffee bars. Other bespoke joinery items include the water stations and wash basins which have been re-envisaged and incorporated as furniture items rather than simple necessities.

    Bicycle Thieves embodies a unique and inviting Italian aesthetic that’s perfectly at home in Northcote. Blending the neighborhood’s rich heritage with a nostalgic mid-century feel in an industrial setting is no easy feat, but one that’s been successfully executed by the Pierce Widera team.

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