A Light Touch

A sense of artistry characterises the highly anticipated renovation of Magill Estate restaurant by Pascale Gomes-McNabb, one of the country’s most exciting interior architects.

A sense of artistry characterises the highly anticipated renovation of Magill Estate restaurant by Pascale Gomes-McNabb, one of the country’s most exciting interior architects. For many of the country’s newest hospitality fit-outs the emphasis is on minimal, pared-back design. The trend is particularly evident in Adelaide where bars and eateries such as Udaberri and Nordburger are making a strong impression. These interiors forego excessive styling and over-the-top embellishment in favour of a robust material palette, precise joinery and an unquestionable attention to detail. The end result may look simple but each design element possesses a complexity that is intentionally unapparent. When Penfolds re-opened their Magill Estate restaurant in late August they too revealed a new fit-out that was breathtaking in its simplicity. The much-anticipated renovation may be minimalist, but the level of craftsmanship and high quality details and finishes is anything but ordinary. Penfolds was smart to call in arguably one of the country’s top designers for the job, Pascale Gomes-McNabb. The contracts team at Schiavello’s South Australian branch was also engaged as construction managers to translate the Melbourne-based interior architect’s vision. This renovation was always going to be a challenge because of the building’s ‘glass box’ typology. What Gomes-McNabb had to work with was essentially an elevated floor, a ceiling and lots of glass walls. The outside would figure prominently in the interior design, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, considering the winery’s picturesque location and impressive views. What was important, according to Steve Lockwood, Schiavello’s State Director, is that “Penfolds found a synergy between their wine, their food and the interior design so that it spoke as one to the market”. Gomes-McNabb was incredibly respectful of the building’s existing architecture and her final design has a light touch. Rationalised insertions and minimal interruptions characterise the new fit-out and bespoke detailing gives Magill Estate restaurant its resounding design expression. The light fittings are delicate handblown glass, the joinery a sumptuous mix of copper, brass, timber and blackened steel and the seating is upholstered in a range of differently textured fabrics. “It is exceedingly eclectic,” says Lockwood. “The risk was that all these unusual shapes, lines and dimensions wouldn’t work together, but they do. They all elegantly dovetail into each other so that it looks like no other offering in Adelaide.” The design’s most apparent point of difference is the kitchen’s segregation from the dining area. Gomes-McNabb has bucked the current fashion for visible kitchens and kept this one well and truly hidden behind glass panelling printed with an aerial view of the vineyard. The ‘theatre’ has been taken out of the design equation so that the emphasis is on a fine dining experience. Placing the food preparation in full view would have created unnecessary visual clutter and changed the intended ambience. The spectacular views already offer so much to look at and Gomes-McNabb’s design must be commended for holding its own, even in harsh daylight. When the sun floods the interior it’s the individual bespoke elements that stand out and as soon as the sun goes down the interior is at its most attractive. The glass light fittings echo the lights of the city and their soft glow adds to the restaurant’s refined ambience. “It’s a different room in the evening,” says Lockwood. “The design comes alive and works so well with the building’s surrounding aspects.” Gomes-McNabb’s uncompromisingly bespoke vision lends the restaurant a sense of artistry that reflects the excellence of Magill Estate’s food and wine. It is a vibrant synergy befitting one of Australia’s finest restaurants. pascalegomesmcnabb.com.au penfolds.com schiavello.com

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