A black steel mezzanine that calls back to car factories of the 1950s. Plush private booths, natural timbers, black leather and designer furniture. Fresh coffee sipped among high-end luxury cars. Designed by local architects Jackson Clement Burrows, the new Mercedes me Melbourne concept store is unlike any other venue in the city.
The combination cafe, dining, event and design space at the base of Rialto Towers on Collins Street, is just the seventh such store in the world, following Hamburg, Munich, Moscow, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing. “You don’t have to be a car enthusiast and you don’t have to learn about the brand to enjoy the space,” says general manager Simon Johnson. “But it’s there to discover if you want.”
As is the food and drink. Mercedes-Benz has teamed up with long-time partner ST. ALi to take care of the kitchen; there’s a new menu curated to the store’s concept of innovation. “I really like the new Green Goblet dish,” says Salvatore Malatesta founder of the ST. ALi Family. “It’s stewed greens with chlorophyll. It sounds a bit unappealing but it’s absolutely delicious with a surprising sweetness and interesting texture.”
Feast among the fleet
Mercedes-Benz vehicles are a unifying theme of the space, with a different car from the fleet on display in the centre of the room every two weeks; anything from a rare classic, to a new model, to a Formula One racing car during the Grand Prix.
A simulated garage invites visitors to explore iconic car models through interactive digital touch points, and a virtual-reality experience mirrors the model displayed in-store.
The upstairs mezzanine is home to a library of Mercedes-Benz archives. “What’s cool about the library is how many fascinating stories we’re able to tell,” says Johnson. “Every single day Mercedes-Benz invests the equivalent of more than AU$30 million in research and development to innovate new products.” Car fan or not, the library is a cosy space, and you can hook your phone or laptop up to free high-speed wi-fi anywhere in-store.
A truly unique collaboration
The collaboration between ST. ALi and Mercedes-Benz extends beyond the space. The pair worked on a unique, advanced coffee roaster, presented here in the front corner of the store. “ST. ALi roast their own beans and they’re real scientists with that,” says Johnson. “But we thought it’d be a fun idea to bring our engineering expertise into the equation to see if we can make it a more precise process.”
To do this Mercedes-Benz engineers installed an air intake from one of their high-performance cars in the back of the roaster to help cool it. “We also added some temperate monitoring technology from different cars,” says Johnson. “The end result is we can change or affect the roasting process, and thanks to data input, analysis and cooling, be more precise. We’re not claiming to make better roasted coffee, but we’re definitely injecting something different into the process with advanced technologies.”
“It was more of a playful experiment,” says Malatesta. “And the finer the equipment you have to work with, the more pleasant the task.”
More than food and cars
At night the Mercedes me space will also host different events that shine a spotlight on the brand’s varying partnerships across fashion, design, innovation, sport, food and art. That diversity of industries taps into the space’s ability to transform, something Malatesta is very excited about. .“We could be a brunch venue, a lunch venue, or a dinner venue,” he says. “It’s pretty exciting to be in a space that can convert into almost anything.”
Mercedes me Melbourne
525 Collins Street, Melbourne
Mon to Thu 7am–5pm
(03) 8568 0400
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Mercedes-Benz.