A thoughtful material palette consisting of patina steel, polished concrete and brick was selected by the designer to meet the brief for Stovetop’s new premises in Carlton.

A household name for many Carlton locals, Stovetop has been offering speciality stovetop brewed coffee as well as great food since 2013. When the business outgrew its existing space, the owners decided to relocate to larger premises in 2018. The new location was in Melbourne Uni’s new Village student accommodation building 50 metres down the road on Leicester Street.

The brief for the interior design of the new premises sought to integrate the legacy of the Stovetop brand – that of a warm café culture – with the exceptionally modern building that now housed the establishment.

Piece Design owner Robert Bolitho, who had helped bring the Stovetop brand to life in 2013 by designing its original premises, was called in once again to design the new premises.

“Stovetop was a relatively new brand we had created, and everything they’d worked hard for in those five years, we didn’t want to have to start again. So I wanted to keep a legacy but create a new establishment and bring more focus to their offering,” Bolitho explained.

The plan was to retain some of the new look while easing the old look in with a better design.

Bolitho designed two rooms for Stovetop’s new location. The first is an imitation laneway entry housing Stovetop’s coffee counter, with steel frame glass doors pushing all the way back into the brick walls, allowing the entry to be flush with the street. The welcoming and cosy nook has a natural indoor/outdoor feel where customers come in, order takeaway coffees and chat with the baristas, or turn right into the main seated dining area, featuring floor to ceiling windows and a variety of table types.

“For a street facing premises, I wanted to create a visual break between the building and Stovetop, so I used contrasting materials and bolder shapes to break away from the modern, concrete building and maintain that warm café culture,” says Bolitho on his choice of materials, which has helped achieve the perfect balance between new and familiar.

Oregon patina steel, polished concrete and brick are the principal materials, reflecting an industrial vibe. “It’s important to make people feel comfortable and offer something that’s robust and warm, not clinical,” he explained.

Brick is a dominant finish, used extensively to deliver robust warmth to the site. Iron Mountain brick tiles from Robertson's Building Products Pty Ltd generously cover the walls, while Antico Casale Fumo brick tiles were laid in a striking herringbone pattern to create a spectacular floor in the laneway entry.

“I love the finish of Robertson’s Building Products’ brick tiles – they’re a bit more organic, and when you have a lot of them together, particularly the ones I chose, you get that variation in the tile. So it looks as though they’re handmade; the light does pick them up differently. The tiler likes them as well, and they get good corner edges so they look just like bricks. These are the things we like – all of the little details,” Bolitho reflected.

Photographer: Adrian Malarbi, Percolate Brand Studio