Boudoir Babylon Café represents a design collaboration between Adam Nathaniel Furman and Sibling Architecture, commissioned for the NGV Triennial 2020 in Melbourne.
The project transforms NGV’s Gallery Kitchen with three distinct spatial typologies – the boudoir, the salon and the club – serving as inspiration. All three locations are considered as safe spaces for those with identities outside of the norm, mainly women, the queer community as well as people with different political or religious beliefs and other marginalised sections.
With an aim to challenge, subvert and rethink norms of how people come together and socialise, the designers used geometric forms, gender-stereotyped colours and symbolic imagery based on body parts to create vibrant, theatrical scenography. Elements such as a circular catwalk or carousel in the centre, painted modesty screens (found in 18th century boudoirs) that create individual spaces for people who like their privacy, round tables around the central feature for bigger groups creating a salon effect, and peepholes for a quick peek into the queer world, are some of the highlights of the installation.
According to the designers, the installation is inspired by Eileen Grey’s Boudoir de Monte Carlo (1923), which builds upon the boudoir as a space to retreat between the dining room and bedroom to a multidimensional space for rest, parties and pleasure.
“The nightclub is also a multifunctional space with a layering of different people that come together for a moment. We took inspiration from Piper in Turin and Inflation in Melbourne, among others, in how views across environments and bodies are layered,” the designers explained.