The new gift shop and level two cafe at the Australian Museum are both purposeful peripheral spaces, crafted to complement experiences full of wonder. Visitors enter via a ramp which winds around the glass-walled gift shop, and exit through stairs which pass the store. With nowhere to hide in an open plan entrance foyer, the importance of this first and last impression called for a sophisticated retail environment which could impress from all angles.
A band of dichroic film wraps the glazed walls of the store, a dynamic visual component which cleverly abstracts the zigzag Australian Museum logo. Inside, the visual merchandising is defined entirely by USM shelving. The iconic modular system creates pleasingly uniform proportions, with slimline shelving forming a neat display for the museum’s various curiosities. This elegant, streamlined space is home to a giant dinosaur skeleton which brings a playful character to the store, made of reboard: a reconstitutedmaterial which can in turn be recycled at the end of its lifecycle.
An atmosphere of casual conviviality awaits visitors upstairs in the cafe, conceived as a rest and refuel stop at the museum’s midpoint. The main espresso bar kiosk, clad in Tasmanian oak timber, brings tactile warmth to an area defined by robust concrete and muted grey hues. Ceilings were painted white to amplify the limited natural light in an area surrounded by the rest of the museum. This transitional hospitality venue is designed to flex with the changing requirements of this floor, which alternates between a children’s level by day and a secondary catering and events space by night. To this end, tables here are stackable and foldable, paired with stackable chairs by Hub Furniture.
Words by Sandra Tan