Fine Dining

It was just a matter of time before designer Alexander Lotersztain collaborated with the JamFactory. The result is an elegantly stylish tableware collection for Depo, his new Brisbane restaurant.

It was just a matter of time before designer Alexander Lotersztain collaborated with the JamFactory. The result is an elegantly stylish tableware collection for Depo, his new Brisbane restaurant. Alexander Lotersztain has long been aware of the important role the JamFactory plays within the country’s craft and design industry. The Brisbane-based designer has been invited to give workshops and presentations at its studios and galleries on a number of occasions and he is quick to sing its praises. In the back of his mind has been the idea to collaborate with the Adelaide institution; all he needed was the right excuse. This excuse recently presented itself in the form of Depo, Lotersztain’s newest business venture. The restaurant in the heart of Brisbane’s West End features the designer’s characteristically dynamic aesthetic and impeccable attention to detail. “The game has changed in the hospitality industry,” he says. “As a designer you now have to create environments where customers feel great, they feel loved and they can enjoy an entire experience.” Making good on his promise, Lotersztain has delivered – and then some. “Honestly, it could have been a very easy exercise for me to go to Ikea and buy some crockery,” he continues. “But it was about seeing Depo as an opportunity to inspire people with everyday objects.” When Lotersztain approached JamFactory CEO Brian Parkes with the idea to collaborate on a range of tableware to be used in the restaurant the proposition was too good to refuse. Within a matter of weeks the designer was meeting with the program manager of the ceramics studio David Pedler and working on prototypes during an intense two-day workshop. The entire project was a genuinely collaborative process and the outcome resulted in the design of five different plates with a total product manufacture of 500. For Lotersztain the most rewarding aspect of the whole process was learning about a new material and understanding its capabilities. He soon realised that the large number of rejects produced is inevitable; such is the nature of ceramics. Instead of fighting the material’s inherent qualities Lotersztain decided to use them to his advantage. “Rather than create a plate that needed to be perfectly round and perfectly proportioned every single time I welcomed those small distortions or warps,” he says. “It actually enhances the product because it made each plate something unique.” By sprinkling sand onto the clay while it was still wet Lotersztain further heightened the tableware’s handmade qualities. The resulting speckled effect means that each plate has its own individual textured pattern. He also gave each plate a twist by designing a base detail that is echoed throughout the whole collection. This handmade sensibility is reiterated within Depo’s relaxed, bespoke interior design, which is an eclectic mix of inviting furnishings and finishes. The tableware’s earthy colour palette also complements the abundant use of timber throughout the fit out. Lotersztain may have driven the project from a design perspective but what of the culinary considerations? Head chef and Lotersztain’s business partner Erik van Gederen made everyone aware of the practicalities involved in the design of a plate. “There were such naïve questions that had to be considered,” says Lotersztain. “But questions that are extremely important for the practicality of the collection: Is it dishwasher safe? What’s the weight of each plate? How will the plate sit on the table? Will wait staff be able to carry it?” Clean, elegant lines ultimately characterise the collection making each plate’s shape the perfect form upon which van Gederen can present his sophisticated dishes. Depo has been open since early July and the dining experience is by all means memorable. Lotersztain’s newest venture showcases the country’s best craft and design practitioners in an environment that is easily accessible. It also stands as testament to the exciting potential for national collaboration. With plans to make the tableware available for purchase through the restaurant’s retail outlet the promise of future collaborations is an even grander proposition. Images: Florian Groehn

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