You have to hand it to Studio-Gram. Not only has the Adelaide-based firm succeeded in designing an out-of-the-box bar and restaurant with Italo-New York connections. (Where there’s not a red-and-white checked table cloth in sight.) They’ve also managed to lean into the wild ride that is the 2013 film Wolf of Wall Street and merge it with their design response. In fact, it was a cocaine-fuelled conversation from the all-American crime flick that inspired the venue’s name, Fugazzi.
The term, derived from the slang word fugazi, roughly meaning ‘fake’, was thrown around in the movie by Mark Hanna, played by Matthew McConaughey, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort. Discussing the reality that nobody really knows whether the stock market is likely to go up, down (or as Hanna says, “sideways or in circles”), the two nefarious stockbrokers labelled the situation they found themselves in a “fugazi”.
Mark Hanna: It’s all a fugazi. Do you know what fugazi is?
Jordan Belfort: Fugazi, it’s a fake…
Mark Hanna: Yeah, fugayzi, fugazi. It’s a whazy. It’s a woozie. It’s fairy dust. It doesn’t exist. It’s never landed. It is no matter. It’s not on the elemental chart. It’s not f*cking real. Right?
Jordan Belfort: Right.
Fugazzi bar and restaurant in Adelaide by Studio-Gram
Blurring the line between today and yesterday, the Fugazzi bar and restaurant plays into this idea of existence, finding itself in a moment of déjà vu that prompts patrons to ask themselves if they’ve been here before. “[The venue is] a romantic, textural representation of the past, that simultaneously manages to remain firmly rooted in the contemporary,” remarks the Studio-Gram team, headed up by founders Graham Charbonneau and Dave Bickmore.
Fugazzi by name, but in no way fake by nature, the destination has been labelled by many an “overnight institution” since its opening on Adelaide’s Leigh Street in May of this year. It’s a pumping place where velvet, leather and marble is layered among custom joinery, statement shelves – and a pretty fabulous powder room – to create a decadent and luxurious atmosphere, designed to invoke a sense of nostalgia.
The client’s brief to the designers called for an elevated culinary experience, suggesting drinks and nibbles should be enjoyed in the bar area on arrival, and long stays welcomed in the dining room, encouraged by the plushness of its booths. As a result, there’s not a “bad seat” in the house, the designers insist. “The bar and the restaurant are altogether different experiences that serve to unite the whole, yet thrive as individual offerings,” they add.
Rich in materiality and moody in execution, the bar area allows patrons to sink into its corners from day through to nightfall. The restaurant is much brighter, with carefully curated art and objet, and a sophisticated level of comfort. Custom joinery pieces with a range of circle-cut details, mostly featuring a high-gloss lipstick red finish, appear to unify the two spaces. “As a whole, the space feels made for the future,” the designers say, adding that patrons should expect an “an all-encompassing experience” where attentive service, good food and delicious drinks meet a familiar-feeling fit-out.
Demonstrating a sound understanding of the client’s brief, Fugazzi unifies hospitality-driven function with prodigious design. This is exampled by the resolution of the planning, including how the designers managed a narrow entry space to create a useable, standalone bar that works double-time to service the restaurant. Further, the typical raised bar where drink-making is separated from drink-consuming has been removed to showcase the craft behind the drinks. “To reveal the hospitality,” the Studio-Gram team says. “To create a bar that is as much about the service and presentation as it is about the making. A bar that truly engages with the patron.”
Fugazzi by name, but in no way fake by nature, the venue has been labelled an “overnight institution” by many.