Thursday 25 January 2024, on an evening when Melbourne lived up to being the city of four seasons in one day, turning on an unexpected mid-summer deluge, Cosentino opened its second Oceania showroom.
Melbourne’s famously changeable weather did little to deter the local design community from attending the opening of Cosentino City Centre Melbourne. All were eager to see and experience the unique showroom-come-collaborative concept space Cosentino is known for around the globe.
When crossing the threshold of 460 Collins Street, a Heritage-listed building and formerly the National Bank of Australia Chambers, you are transported into a space that feels at once familiar and Australian, as well as imbued with grandeur, luxury and the history of a Spanish company.
Taking full advantage of over 535 square metres of floor space and the cathedral-like height of the chambers, the Cosentino design team have achieved that challenging thing of combining the old with the new so that they speak to each other — not in the same language, but in the language of style, materials, form and balance that designers and non-designers alike recognise and appreciate.
Original features such as the ceiling details have been restored and retained, and it is heartening to see a global brand respond to the unique contemporary Australian aesthetic style and consider the architectural heritage of Melbourne.
The showroom experience has become one of the most important aspects of a product supplier’s business. In an industry which already has some incredible surface and stone suppliers, with equally beautifully articulated and functional showrooms, such as Neolith and Gitani, Cosentino’s City Centre is a welcome addition from an experiential perspective
Every detail of the space – from the ateliers, designed to function as an interactive sample resource library for designers and their clients, through to the live kitchen and multiple meeting rooms – have been considered and crafted in sympathetic harmony with the history of the building.
A family-owned company, Cosentino has been producing and designing innovative surface applications since 1979. Founded in a small town in the south of Spain by current executive vice president of the Cosentino Group and CEO of Cosentino Americas, Eduardo Cosentino’s father, Eduardo Cosentino Senior, the business originally focused 100 percent on natural stone.
Recognising that there was a lot of waste being created, Eduardo Coesntino Senior set about a process of trial and error to figure out how to use this waste to create new products. The first product was “a disaster… it was more expensive and had more problems” says Eduardo Cosentino (junior).
Undeterred, in the early 1990s, Cosentino senior landed on a solution which placed them in a strong position not only as innovators but as a company focused on reuse and sustainability.
“We were always thinking about sustainability, since the beginning of when the company started,” Cosentino says.
Fast forward to the present moment, and all of this conscious curiosity and rich history come together to offer a range of products that have “endless possibilities and endless applications”, says Cosentino.
Products aside, what the Cosentino City Centre does — or hopefully will do — beyond bringing a range of products to life, is bring designers together to collaborate, which can only be a good thing for the future of design in Australia.
Photography by Tim Kaye and Sam Talbone.