Stepping through the door of Fugazzi for the first time, an unlikely feeling descends – a sense of having been here before. At the very least, it is a cinematic familiarity; one could be forgiven for almost expecting to see Don Corleone ensconced in a booth or Stanley Tucci’s browbeaten restaurateur Secondo leaning on the bar. It’s a combination of dramatic flair and understated detail expertly executed by studio gram, which speaks to a sumptuous Italo-New York nostalgia nestled into Adelaide’s CBD.
There’s a knowing quality to the design that ensures it never falls into pastiche. Passing under the verandah draped in verdigris green canvas, which could equally be found at the stoop of any New York apartment, the bold white font almost too reminiscent of the New Yorker masthead, it becomes apparent that studio gram has found the ideal balance of amusing and entrancing. Even the name has a hint of satire, ‘fugazzi’ being mafia slang for something that is fake, a rip off.
Appropriately tucked between towering red-brick apartments in a Leigh Street laneway of Adelaide’s financial district, Fugazzi is the brainchild of chefs Laura and Max Sharrad of Hyde Park pasta institution Nido. The Sharrads’s brief was for an elevated culinary experience; studio gram took this and created an immersive mise-en-scène. The design almost lunges at you with detail, a prodigious array of different materials, textures and geometries bordering on cacophonous but, instead, unified by an earthy palette of reds, browns, golds, greens and blacks.
The narrow entry leads you past the impressive Rosso Levanto marble bar, with routed accents along the waterfall front adding depth and shadow to the already eye-catching sanguine and white surface. The design of the main bar is all about theatre, a stage for patrons to marvel at the drinks being prepared for the whole venue or make themselves comfortable at the wings in the custom black nubuck leather bar stools with chequered backrests to enjoy an aperitif while waiting for a table. A quarter-length shiraz-red curtain hovers over the bar, completing the scene, the warm light from the Nightworks handblown pendants obscured and softened through the fabric. The back bar, night-black Nero Marquina marble, stands behind polished fire engine-red shelves, matching those of the waiters’ stations and standing wine cellar, yet each with its own unique stacked three-dimensional geometry.
studio gram has created an intoxicating space, so rich in materiality it blurs the lines between real and fake.
The dining booth to the right of the bar is a perfect scene of blackwood timber panelling, sumptuous brown leather upholstery, marble tables and handblown sconces by Jardan. The rich palette continues throughout with marble splashing through passageways and lighting conduits; timber panelling enveloping each booth; and central draping curtains creating the illusion of privacy and separation without closing off the space. The only exception to this palette is the restroom – with its chequered floor tiling and rounded baby-blue Perspex framing, one feels they have stepped into a retro bubble bath.
studio gram has created an intoxicating space, so rich in materiality it blurs the lines between real and fake. The reason it works is that every element is considered. From the honed marble tiles to the custom Kaspar Schmidt Mumm prints, the whole space is a work of art. studio gram’s Dave Bickmore describes the inspiration for this ode to maximalism – “its bold character is a physical manifestation of the Italian’s age-old gift of making art out of life.”