Pastel blue tiles, terrazzo tables and salmon seats create “an insertion of playfulness” within a late 19th-century building in this gelato shop designed by Ewert Leaf.
Located in South Melbourne, the brief for Little Sky Gelateria was “a fanciful retail space”, showcasing the art of gelato production.
“Through their love of gelato, the clients aspired to create a brand and space that promotes enjoyment and social interaction,” Ewert Leaf tells ADR.
“The shop design is interactive and an engaging experience, coupled with the transformation of the building into a community gathering space.”
Original elements including the concrete floors and brickwork were restored, sitting in contrast, according to the studio, with the “smooth, curved profiles” of the gelato counter, kitchen bar and surrounding joinery, which were custom designed by local manufacturers.
White walls are interrupted by a salmon-coloured band, which is positioned directly above a solid oak bench seat, mimicking the back of a booth.
This seat extends the length of the interior and is punctuated with pink seat cushions and pink terrazzo tabletops on cherry red bases that encourage communal dining.
“These joinery elements compliment the striking pastel pink backdrop of the kitchen joinery wall, providing a further layer of texture and materiality,” explains Ewert Leaf.
“Blue horizontal strapping profiles trace the interior, further visually connecting the new insertion to the existing building fabric.”
At the centre of the space, the gelato counter is clad in light and dark blue tiles and highlighted by custom colour pendants.
Another light runs along the base of the counter to further attract focus, while the gelato itself is hidden from sight to create a sense of “anticipation and surprise” in the customer.
This hidden element is contrasted with the large open window punctuating the kitchen joinery wall at the back of the store, where customers can watch the gelato being made.
“Showcasing production was an integral part of the design brief, inspired from the clients’ studies in Northern Italy and their desire to share this tradition,” says Ewert Leaf.
The client was also committed to working with local designers and suppliers, commissioning custom pink and white ceramic bowls, which are used to serve the gelato in-house and hand-crafted timber waffle cone stands from local artisans.
The stands were made from the off-cuts of the timber bench seat, which was part of the practice and client’s desire to be more sustainable.
“Implementing sustainable initiatives was key in ensuring that the business is run in the most environmentally responsible way possible,” concludes the Melbourne studio.
This ethos extends to the packaging used by Little Sky Gelateria with recycled paper cups, reusable ice-cream containers and crystal glassware sourced from a local op shop.
Little Sky Gelateria is shortlisted for the IDEA 2020 Hospitality award. See who else made the cut!
We’ll be announcing the winners at the IDEA Gala in Melbourne on 19 February 2021. Tickets on sale soon.
Photography: Fi Storey.
Ewert Leaf is a multi-disciplinary design and architecture firm based in Melbourne.
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