Current Issue #488

Treasury 1860 Ditches Trends for Timeless Design

Treasury 1860 Ditches Trends for Timeless Design

With a focus on timeless design, King William Street’s heritage Treasury Building’s bar and restaurant venue will soon come to life under the banner Treasury 1860.

‘Under new management’ is a term often associated with dramatic change and the implementation of trend-following ideas. In the case of Treasury 1860, however, the new management of Nathan Wright, his father Tony Wright and wife Anna Thomas are implementing a more classic take on the old restaurant and bar. ‘Timeless’ is the word used to describe their design ethos, as the team has taken over management of the building’s hospitality lease and renovated the bar and restaurant.

Since winning the tender for the property with a design-focussed vision that prioritised a timeless look and feel, the bar and restaurant spaces have been renovated with the help of Adelaide designers Studio-Gram.

“The lease for this venue came up for public tender in about March or April of last year,” Anna says. “Having known Gram’s work we decided to tender with Studio-Gram rather than tender without a vision. Knowing that a vision was actually probably the most important part of winning this lease, we went to them straight away with some ideas and concepts. It was a lot of words, colours, textures.”

Treasury 1860’s restaurant

It might be a contradiction in terms, but the heritage hospitality venue on the ground floor looks as good as new. The design efforts of Adelaide’s Studio-Gram have resulted in two spaces that pay distinct homage to their heritage, while adding a modern timelessness to the mix. Dated paint jobs have been dispensed in favour of more neutral tones that hero the finer details beneath them and showcase the building’s high ceilings. Unobtrusive lighting has been fitted, and smarter-looking furniture installed, too.

“It was pretty important for us to depart from the original colours for a few reasons,” Anna says. “First of all it was a bit tired, and it was also — looking at colour and its effect on your mood — not enormously cohesive. Eating in a green room for example isn’t a particularly appealing experience and drinking in a red bar is a bit aggressive. We wanted to bring it back to a warmer, more inviting experience with more neutral tones.”

Studio-Gram’s Graham Charbonneau says that working within a heritage space like the Treasury Building is an interesting challenge, and part of the key to this project’s success is a focus on subtlety and avoiding trends.

“A important part of the vision was that it should be ‘timeless’, which is really avoiding trends and in character with the building, but also to separate the venue from other things that are happening around town,” Charbonneau says. “There’s a lot of good design happening, but I think a lot of it’s ‘on-trend’, so there are some concerns about the longevity of some of those venues. As the trends change, some of them might fall out of favour, so it was really important with the brief for this place to make it more timeless in nature, without just being trendy.”


Indeed, a heritage building provides a strong base from which one can work towards timelessness.

“It’s not about dressing or decorating it,” Charbonneau says. “It’s about celebrating and highlighting some of the things that are already there. Even just through the use of paint. Previously all of the rooms were kind of painted one colour, including the existing skirtings and cornicing. We’ve tried to play on it and use varying colour tones in the same room to highlight and draw out the details of those elements and draw more attention to them.

“Funnily enough, one of the things we’re using that’s timeless is trendy now, and that’s the use of brass fixtures and fittings. What we’re doing is using them in some more uncommon places though, so things like kick plates, strapping on bar edges and footrests and those details, while also using them in fixtures and fittings and joinery and lights which is on-trend these days.”

One advantage that the team had on their side when applying for the lease was that Nathan worked at Treasury under the previous lessee and had come to know the space intimately as its venue manager.

“The beauty for me continuing as venue manager is that I have a really good understanding of the venue itself – what we thought needed to be done, how we were going to do it, who we’d get to do it, and the customer base,” Nathan says. “That gave me a head start in preparing ourselves to develop it and roll it out, from a staff point of view, hotel staff point of view and for the customers.”


Nathan goes on to say that their lease services a wide variety of customers, so they have no intention of narrowing their focus onto one demographic, cuisine or spirit style. With the CBD worker crowd, Adina Apartment Hotel guests and audiences from Adelaide Town Hall concerts next door coming through Treasury 1860, the focus is, like the design, on high quality delivery rather than the trend of the moment.

Likewise, the rebrand from ‘Treasury on King William’ to ‘Treasury 1860’ is another example of the team maintaining advantages of the space, and paying homage to its heritage.

“We’re cool enough to know we’re not cool enough,” Anna says. “We don’t want to be anything but what this beautiful building can be.”

Treasury 1860 will enjoy a soft open on Monday, November 13 with a full launch coming at the end of the month.

Photography: Sia Duff


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