Located at the base of the Rialto within the historic financial heart of Melbourne, the Sensory Lab, Rialto, draws upon the context of the site and the values of the Sensory Lab brand to reimagine and recreate the previously generic sandwich, salad and coffee experience. A re-imagined approach to its predecessors, the brief sought a clever and compact design to showcase in equal measure, both a coffee and ‘grab and go’ food offering, a first for the brand.
Inspired by the warm tones of traditional European espresso bars, the design is rich in detail but similarly pared back and refined, exuding a contemporary elegance and sophistication. Furthermore, the design is layered with texture, as well as activity, to create a uniquely high end ‘grab and go’ experience.
The palette is intentionally minimal but textural, adopting traditional and honest finishes including rendered walls, reclaimed herringbone timber, aged metals and marbles, all being accentuated by delicate bronze and brass detailing.
The layout enables a fluid and seamless spatial flow and is clever and considered from an operational and user experience perspective.
Upon entering, patrons are met with a monolithic tarnished bronze counter that exhibits the food offering and simultaneously guides the ‘grab and go’ procession.
The theatre of the finishing kitchen beyond, creates a scenic and multi-sensory backdrop that seeks to lure patrons and create an all-encompassing experience that transports one, if only momentarily.
Seating is limited to an intimate corner banquette for small groups, accompanied by a Venetian styled standing bar that visualizes an eloquent scene of coffee goers.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns