Initially I thought Bluetrain was a completely impressive interior however, I realised that actually the space has a number of impressive independent features that don’t necessarily work together.
The Bluetrain at Southgate Melbourne has many zones, possibly too many zones with a bar area at the entrance, upstairs dining, downstairs dining, including a side booth all of which occupies the whole volume of the space not allowing for easy flow of physical movement but also the easy flow of movement for the eye.
Also the background of this space, the wonderful view of the Melbourne sky line is not fully appreciated given the ‘busyness’ inside.
There is height in the space as indicated by the upstairs dining therefore there are vertical lines highlighted by a bright turquoise and red pipework feature and the many long clusters of pendant light fittings placed across the width of the space.
Many colours are used in the space but the feature colour is turquoise and white with other colours such a red, charcoal, black, yellow and wood panelling all competing for the eye’s attention.
A strong industrial theme is present at the Bluetrain, sweetened by colour for example the turquoise and red pipework, the turquoise and white corrugated panelling and the yellow bicycle wheels. Traditional industrial textures such as black iron and glass are also present. However, I’m unsure whether adding colour to these strong textures works.
This space receives a lot of natural light from the ceiling to floor windows which spans the width of the cafe. There is also a variety of different pendant light fittings which perform an aesthetic and practical function but the variety includes large round glass pendants, small green bottle pendants and even a meccano pendant all competing and not really working together.
Pattern is predominant here with a geometric yellow wallpaper, L shaped iron trellises which hover over some dining tables, even the line of the pendant light fittings form a pattern. More pattern is found in the corrugated iron panel and the triangular pattern painted on this panel as well as the vertical pattern of the pipe works. Again too much pattern which makes it difficult for the eye to rest. There is also a graffiti pattern in the centre of the downstairs dining area.
Balance is all about achieving equilibrium in a space through careful placement of objects, in Bluetrain there are too many objects not conducive to the purpose that contribute to the imbalance of the interior design. Usually, I find that repetition of textures and colours helps to contribute to the balance and harmony of a space making you feel comfortable, however at Bluetrain there is so much going on with the interior design which detracts from the purpose and impacting diners’ comfort.
In a cafe the emphasis has to be on the objects that support the dining experience that is the chairs, tables, noise levels, ease of movement but at Bluetrain the emphasis seems to be the interior design rather than the food and beverages.
Features and objects of interest are an important part of interior design but here the proportion and scale of features such as the long pendant light fittings, the iron trellises and other features are not in scale to the primary purpose of the dining chairs and tables.
Despite being nominated for the Australian Interior Design Awards 2014 Bluetrain does have impressive features and elements that independently are interesting and striking but overall the harmony is comprised due to the busyness of the interior design. It’s bold and ambitious but an edit in this space would have worked wonders.