It’s not going to occur to you while your biting into a slice of pizza in Northcote or trying on a pair of jeans in Thornbury that the people who created the space you’re in did a little maintenance on the Death Star or built a desk or two at Hogwart’s. But the boys behind new design and construction business Totally Hammered all met constructing film sets (significant film sets) and just a few months ago, decided to combine their skills and create a business fulfilling specific briefs for clients and designing and constructing interiors for others.

The three partners – Griff Tapper, Dave Bartlett and Luke Murphy – bring more than three decades of collective experience to the new business, which was founded out of necessity and desire, as set construction on large-scale films in Australia became a bit thin on the ground. “If there was something that came our way, we might have a chance to do things on it,” says Tapper. “Most of the films we’ve worked on have been with overseas money and there’s not much going on here at the moment; Australian films don’t have that kind of funding.”

By thinking outside the square, the trio have balanced corporate and creative jobs and are clearly filling a gap in the market for thoughtful, contemporary small-scale design with an urban sensibility and, as often as not, an ethical and sustainable approach to production and installation.

Their commercial jobs have ranged from work for the ABC and a fashion show for Chanel, to the Grand Prix and Melbourne Cup. “We’ve done loads of festivals and events,” says Bartlett, “making what the client wants.” But the freedom of their own business has given them the scope to introduce a design element, which is something they’re very comfortable with. “In the past we’ve worked for a construction manager who works for a designer and we get given drawings and stuff and then we figure out how to make it, but now we’re doing more design work,” explains Tapper. “Sometimes people don’t really know what they want and we give them ideas…and take it from there.”

Totally Hammered’s first cafe/bar design job was the latest venture from Jerome Borazio of St Jerome’s, The Resurrection in Brunswick East. “Jerome took us through a lot of crazy ideas and it was to be really low-key,” says Bartlett. “This was something to get open quickly, but we’ve been in there to do some jobs since, like knock the bar down to put the fridges in.” Indeed, the initial plan for The Resurrection was no fridges, but this proved unsustainable for the business, so enter Totally Hammered who designed the space based on a retro-suburban aesthetic that fits perfectly with the discerning urbanity of the Brunswick East crowd – clever stuff.

Northcote pizza restaurant, Meine Leibe’s extension out the back was designed by Tapper and was only finished just before the High Noon street festival in September, they also fitted out Northcote fashion store MTO Industries.

If there is a thread to their design work so far, it is that of intelligently utilising recycled materials in their projects. “From working on film sets, we’ve seen so much wastage,” says Tapper. “A lot of the materials used are not environmentally friendly at all and the three of us have learned that it’s not a 100 per cent necessary all the time to use new materials.”

The trio have access to recycled materials through their work contacts and enjoy working with older bits and bobs. “You can get good finishes easily with stuff that’s old and weathered,” says Bartlett, before Tapper adds, “If you’re making furniture that someone wants sitting in a room for the next 20 years or whatever, if it’s had a life before, it’s worth more than what the materials cost. People feel that sort of stuff.”

It’s this awareness of the client and what they want, as well as understanding the versatility of different materials, which gives Totally Hammered their point of difference. Well, that and the fact they may have met Darth Vader.

Totally Hammered
202A Beavers Road, Northcote

totallyhammered.net