Romantic Inspiration – Zuster Introduces the Victoria Collection

Words by Sara Jacob
Photography by Mike Baker
Development by Little Group
Furniture by Zuster

Taking inspiration from the Victorian era, Zuster introduces its latest furniture collection, Victoria. The range emerges from the brand’s work on the Portarlington Grand Hotel – a newly rejuvenated building developed by Little Group in collaboration with Technē Architecture + Interior Design.

Portarlington Grand Hotel appears today just as it did when first established on the Bellarine Peninsula in 1888. Painstakingly preserved, the building stands tall within the local streetscape – a towering figure overlooking the Portarlington Pier. Mirroring the journey of the former occupants of Portarlington, visitors to the hotel can reach the venue via ferry and, in doing so, begin to immerse themselves in the historical narrative of the location. Once inside, guests can sample some of Bellarine’s finest produce and rest in the comfort of one of 18 boutique hotel rooms. Each room delicately balances a taste of early 20th century grandeur with contemporary expressions of luxury.

Each piece of the Victoria collection is handcrafted in Melbourne by a team of cabinet-makers and upholsterers.

Having previously worked with Zuster on several projects, Little Group requested an exclusive furniture collection in designing the luxury hotel. “Technē provided a design brief around March 2020 when we were in the beginnings of Covid and the Melbourne lockdowns,” explains Wilhelmina McCarroll, Design Director at Zuster. “The usual in-person meetings, touching and feeling of finishes and materials quickly became virtual meetings and plenty of emails.” By the end of a six-month deliberation period, Zuster had become fluent in the revised means of collaboration, enjoying the creative reward of a simplified workspace. “My mind was filled with inspiration of romance from the Victorian grandeur era, and I was able to immediately focus, uninterrupted by my usual multi-tasking in the office environment.”

Each piece of the Victoria collection is handcrafted in Melbourne by a team of cabinet-makers and upholsterers. Curving lines play across the entire range, infusing romantic elegance into the collection. The Victoria range features arched headboards that stretch two-metres high, minibars of Carrara marble with oval handles made from vegan leather and American Oak wardrobes completed with a modest inlay. Though the product presentation contrasts the typical Zuster aesthetic, the change is wholly embraced, having occurred naturally as work on the Portarlington Grand Hotel progressed. “The manufacturing of this project coincided with an extensive upgrade in our equipment and technology across our five manufacturing factories in Thomastown, Melbourne,” says Wilhelmina. “We were able to create and handcraft the unique design details in a timely manner to bring the vision to life.”

Though the product presentation contrasts the typical Zuster aesthetic, the change is wholly embraced, having occurred naturally as work on the Portarlington Grand Hotel progressed.

After providing an uplifting effect in the design of the Portarlington Grand Hotel, Zuster is launching the signature pieces as part of its ongoing portfolio. Through access to the Victoria collection, customers will be able to experience the feeling of inspiration that defined the origins of the project and led to the enhanced character of a long-established hotel.