Some of Adèle Winteridge’s earliest memories include meeting Tina Turner and INXS at her mother’s restaurant. So it makes sense that her company Foolscap Studio is behind the design of some of Australia’s finest cafes, bars and restaurants, including Noma Australia and Sixpenny in Sydney, and Bawa and Patricia in Melbourne. The studio also recently worked on the design of Broadsheet Restaurant.
Foolscap Studio’s output is by no means limited to hospitality. “Our team come from all walks of life and can design anything,” says Winteridge. Other projects include activations in public spaces such as the Wulugul Pop-Up at Barangaroo and the White Rabbit Barrel Hall in Geelong. But, says Winteridge, “We do see that more and more hospitality spaces can bring cities to life, whether it’s a city square, a workplace, residential or retail precinct. Hospitality sits at the center of all these worlds and creates the cultural glue.”
Founded in January 2009 with a small team, Foolscap Studio was “a long time in the making”, says Winteridge, who had previously studied interior architecture before undertaking a Masters in sustainable development for built environment. “Although my background was working on larger scale, high-end commercial projects, my early days as founder of Foolscap Studio were spent on an array of small and medium-sized but impactful cultural and hospitality projects, all of which were interesting because of what they contributed to their city.” These formative projects included Patricia, the first standing-room espresso bar in Melbourne; The Commons, one of the first small bars in Sydney; and an early co-working space for the Clemenger BBDO offices.
Today Foolscap Studio is split between two cities: working from an historic, industrial brick building on Hardware Lane in Melbourne, and from an office space in old silos in Sydney. “Our office is made up of loads of modular timber mobile storage units, improvised shelving and large-scale photographic artworks,” Winteridge says. “This combination of history, honest and raw materials, flexibility in function, and art as inspiration definitely reflects our approach.”
A future office move is on the cards to accommodate Foolscap’s growing team, but they also want to “keep the practice small enough to ensure that directors can be involved in each project at critical points,” says Winteridge. “We work with our strategic design team, Relative, to conduct research and push the parameters to develop more future-forward concepts that go beyond interior or architectural design.”
Of the multifaceted projects Foolscap has undertaken in the past eight years, no two projects have been the same, she says: “We don’t have a house style because design is about so much more than that. I always say that the success of any project is built on strong relationships – understanding where people are coming from, both the client and their audience, and responding to this by pushing the brief and uncovering opportunities. We are living in interesting times where many established norms are being questioned and design teams must respond to that. This has been the case for us from day one.”
Another value that has been carried through is the belief that design must focus on the human experience. “Nowadays, we are working at all scales, but our process is still towards creating relevant, meaningful places that carry local stories, design innovation and timeless value.”
We can expect to see many more interesting projects emerge from Foolscap Studio in the near future: all with the same holistic and human-centric approach. “We are working on a winery for a global brand, a multi-storey hospitality venue in Melbourne’s CBD and a large creative workplace,” says Winteridge. “We are [also] brand guardians for a coffee company in Melbourne and a bakery concept in Sydney. [And] we are collaborating with renowned local and international design firms on architecture and interiors for mixed-use precincts, civic spaces and student accommodation in locations across Australia.”
And, at the end of the day, what does Winteridge enjoy most about her job? “My favourite thing is when a project is complete, is out there in the world and it is being used by the people that we design for,” she says. “It becomes a part of the city’s landscape and a part of public life.”