- Article by Elisa Scarton
Perched above the three-storey American barbeque restaurant Cheek in Swanston Street, Melbourne’s Peaches Cocktail Bar is like something out of a child’s mood board, if that child lived for Miami Vice and oversized philodendron.
The colour palette is simple and obvious – it’s peach (like the name) – but what could have been tacky and predictable in less capable hands is beautifully executed by designer Pierce Widera.
On entry, you’re drawn to the suspended circular pendants that define the space. They’re ripe peaches, another less-than-subtle nod to bar’s name, but it’s not on the nose. Most patrons won’t make the connection as they stare up at the pink ceiling.
The brief was to create a “fun and glamourous Miami atmosphere”, and buck the conventions of the traditional Melbourne bar scene while doing it. So don’t expect polished hardwood, leather, speakeasy-style theatrics or moody and morose lighting.
Instead Widera, which recently received the Australian Interior Design Award for Best Emerging Practice, was inspired by the flirty and whimsical cocktails on offer, delivering a project that doesn’t take itself too seriously and will most definitely divide opinions along the lines of just how much you love the colour peach.
The pale pastel peach-dipped walls are lined with booths upholstered in textured blush fabric and underlined with LED lighting to create an elevated zone within the space.
A handful of tables are topped by bespoke candy-coloured terrazzo and finished with moss green stools that contrast all that pastel.
Oversized philodendron leaves are a welcome natural touch and a nod to the bar’s other muse – the ’80s Miami party scene, which is perhaps best appreciated after dark, when the enormous disco ball bounces rays across the walls and onto the checkered salmon and pale pink floor.
The bar itself is a perfect contrast to the playful design details, the pot plants, marble statuettes, ivy-wrapped rafters and forest green arched window mirrors. It’s covered in a green-veined onyx accented with the shiny brass detailing that’s repeat throughout the space – a grown-up touch that subconsciously tells the visitor that mixing drinks is serious, adult business. There’s nothing frivolous or flimsy about blueberry-infused vermouth or tequila tasting.
The led-lit pink staircase at the back of the room leads to the rooftop bar, where the colour palette is decidedly different. Pastel pink is swapped for pastel blue – the original colour of the facade – and the bar is covered in white curved tiles to match the white furniture and umbrellas on the timber decking.
Up here, the design is less of an assault on the senses, minimalist and modernist, so as to not detract from the views.
Hanging baskets and green creepers wrap themselves around the bar, providing a backdrop to the stars of the show – the bottles used to mix the rooftop bar’s menu of spritz and stirred cocktails.
Melbourne is no stranger to design-focused bars and dining spots with the iconic Espy recently taking out the prize of best-designed bar in the region and Flack Studio capturing the beauty of migrant architecture for the Lagotto wine bar. Peaches itself was shortlisted for the 2019 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards.
Photography: Derek Swalwell