Emphasising the Elemental – Prior by Ritz & Ghougassian
Thornbury, VIC, Australia

Photography Tom Ross
Interior Design Ritz & Ghougassian
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Warm earthed tones fill the volumes of Prior, a welcoming and calming sanctuary from its eclectic surrounding context. Ritz &Ghougassian brings the studios signature rigour and rhythmic approach in conjuring a unique and softly muted dining experience, with an emphasis on the elemental.

A welcomed addition to the area, Prior is located in Melbourne’s inner north, in Thornbury. As an insertion into its bustling high street locale, the café and restaurant space offer a sense of calming reprieve. Once inside, there is an overwhelming embrace of quiet achieved through an astute approach to select finishes, internal arrangement and the use of the lofted gable roof space. The main internal dining portion is encased within the one volume, with an operable-roof outdoor dining area to the rear, allowing an abundance of natural light internally. As both the dominant feature and a defining element, the terracotta-coloured bar runs the length of the space, housing the kitchen, bar and barista, while also accommodating a row of bar height seating. Ritz & Ghougassian expresses a sense of the linear and, through a textured and authentic approach to materiality, ensures a tactile engagement.

Sitting atop apricot-coloured bricks that comprise the wall supporting below, the sense of muted warmth sets the tone for the space.

Prior is designed to allow for individual or large groups and can accommodate between 80 to 100 people at any one time. The paired and deliberate menu reflects a similar sense of clarity of the interior experience – innovative and fresh – while also not disguising elements in the process. A refined attention to detail is felt throughout, particularly expressed through the long colour-pigmented concrete bar. Sitting atop apricot-coloured bricks that comprise the wall supporting below, the sense of muted warmth sets the tone for the space. White is used in abundance to encase the space and offer a complimentary contrast to the inserted colour.

Sitting within an existing space, the flanking bones were painted white, including the structural trusses above as a means to make them a subdued feature and more supportive that featural. Familiar elements are then woven into the highly curated space, with the central open fireplace sitting atop its own plinth as the warming centre of the generous open volume. The linear language defined by the bar is then carried through into the bench seating, both timber and leather cushioned, where custom joinery and furniture pieces complete the picture of the space as being considered and nuanced in detail.

The linear language defined by the bar is then carried through into the bench seating, both timber and leather cushioned, where custom joinery and furniture pieces complete the picture of the space as being considered and nuanced in detail.

Prior beautifully creates itself as its own destination, focused on expressed handmade elements, exposing raw and polished detail finishes. Through a highly refined focus, Ritz & Ghougassian has crafted a tactile and warm escape.

Published 15 June, 2021
Photography  Tom Ross
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