A Clandestine Affair – Toots Disco by Kate Archibald Design

Words by Tiffany Jade
Photography by Jack Lovel
Interior Design by Kate Archibald Design
Branding by Two from Two

A secret within a secret, Toots Disco is one of those places that encapsulates the often-elusive gritty realness of classic dive bars without compromising on the intoxicating visual charisma of a richly layered and highly resolved design language. Immersed within the eclectic streetscape of Perth’s Chinatown, the 80s-inspired disco lounge harnesses the sense of slipping into an after-party when it’s in full swing.

A theatrical glamour hangs within the deep shadows of rich red velvet curtains. Retained in the ravines of each fold are surely all those secrets impetuously spilled on the periphery of the dance floor night after night. Beneath an orbiting dreamscape of sparkling disco ball confetti, Kate Archibald Design cultivated a heady atmosphere in this small yet alluring place within Perth’s urban milieu.

“It’s a secret bar, so you need a passcode to get into the venue next door,” Kate reveals. “Once in, you go to the bartenders and give them a phrase to receive a golden ticket, which grants access to another security-guarded door.” The experience of simply gaining entry to Toots positions this clandestine lounge as one that amplifies expectations, perfectly unspooling them in synergy with patrons’ psyches through interior design.

There is a David Lynch-esque resonance at Toots that imparts a strong 80s ambience. A spectrum of pink and red paints the scene, instilling a sense of anticipation perfectly aligned to the context of a late-night venue heaving with music, cocktails and the tangible haze of mini narratives playing out all around. “We’ve designed an ‘onlookers’area for people who want to be involved but are too lazy to dance,” explains Kate. “The D&M lounge is in the back corner, where velvet on velvet and intimate banquettes coax cocktail-fuelled trash talk.”

From the intentional focus on the bathroom design (think roaring red tiles and flamingo wallpaper) and unbreakable pendants above the bar (which are swung with relish by the bartenders to up the ante for the final hour of service each night), Toots demonstrates Kate Archibald’s intuitive understanding of design as a vehicle for realising venues destined to become vessels of nostalgia.