Foolscap finds inspiration in Provencal style with a touch of Australian twist at Éte restaurant
Été is a French restaurant located at Barangaroo, Sydney’s waterfront dining destination. The menu is focused on fresh, local and seasonal produce, both old and new world cooking techniques to create dishes that are exciting and elegant, without losing sight of the traditions of classical French cuisine. The interior was completed by design practice Foolscap Studio with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.
“Referencing the French aesthetic that appears effortlessly put together yet is so carefully refined, the design of Été at Barangaroo draws inspiration from a classic Provençal style, but gives it a thorough polish with a confident, contemporary Australian-ness. Rustic timber beams became smooth, blonde bentwood; coiled wrought iron is coolly reinterpreted in a hand-painted wall mural inflected with a hint of 1980s brashness. Long communal tables recall farmhouse trestles, but here they’re considerately placed with vessels that act as dividers to demarcate space and create privacy for diners. Both countries’ cultural identities are inextricably tied to seasonality and landscape. At Été, which means ‘summer’ in French, the menu constantly changes to reflect the arrival and departure of the seasons, and so too does the interior décor. Bespoke table vessels and a timber entry screen host ever-evolving produce and floral installations, while removable window decals, rotating menu covers and the seasonal illustrations within indicate the shifting nuances inside each season – just like the produce on offer from the kitchen. The space itself references seasonality year-round, with contrasting materiality working to define two distinct zones within one open space. Autumn and Winter are heralded in the rear of the dining room by a moody, warm palette of plum, burgundy and dark timber. Up the front, bright tangerine and green tones uplift light timbers and call out Spring and Summer. The bar is framed with hand-made green ceramic tiles and clad with hand-beaten zinc, a very slight nod to old galvanised metal wash buckets that are so distinctively part of the French provincial aesthetic. The decorative modernist lighting was handmade in France, while the steel upholstered outdoor furniture was handmade locally to our own design in a contemporary take on a recognisable, classic style. The selection of traditional bentwood and cane Thonet indoor chairs is an homage to that style. For the graphic elements, we worked closely with Chicago-based artist John Zabawa to develop a rough hand-drawn typeface, business cards, menu illustrations and a series of artworks, including two full-height wall murals and ten paintings. The brand identity and artworks seamlessly combine with the interiors to create a genuinely holistic dining experience. The finishes are natural, raw and simple to support an understated design scheme. Curved edges on tables, walls and the bar sit alongside approachable Australian Spotted Gum timber and rough limestone floor tiles, creating a subtle feeling of relaxed comfort. Details such as leather-bound handles and table legs, carved timber edges and granite inlays elevate that comfort with evocative luxury. The wine menu is encased in a beautiful leather binding, which we designed and had made by local leather worker Sarah van Oosterom. Overall, the achievement is a warm and fun space with enough neutrality to allow for flexibility and change. Été doesn’t take itself too seriously, allowing Drew Bolton’s beautiful dishes to take centre stage,” explains Foolscap Studio