Hidden down a laneway in South Melbourne, ‘Chez Dre’ patisserie and café is owned and run by chef; Andrea Reiss. The warehouse was originally a photography school so with the design assistance of Breath Architecture, Reiss and her team transformed the empty shell into her dream café which opened in 2011.
The kitchen forms an architectural feature of the design. Curving around the interior from the rear of the café, the kitchen begins where a wall of black sheets and timber beams are tessellated together and highlighted with light boxes. The aesthetics then change and white tiles dominate the space, while a gaping horizontal hole cuts the curvature in half and places the inner workings of the kitchen on show.
The flooring is a contemporary piece of art in itself. Polished concrete has been hand sprayed, creating a repeated floral pattern with a stencil and red paint.
The configuration of the space has allowed the free formation of individual nooks to be created where customers can dine in demi-privacy, a nice departure from many urban cafés where you can hear the conversation on the table next to yours more clearly than your own.
The large communal wooden teak tables and marble tabletops were sourced from overseas, while the brass industrial light fittings were sourced from the Salvation Army and the hanging glass lights were made by a friend of the owner.
The outdoor courtyard area is simply filled with tables, seating and umbrellas in a black and neutral colour scheme and shaded by a beautiful large tree, giving the space an urbane, yet relaxed feel.
This secret warehouse conversion has fashioned just the right balance between aesthetics and practicality. Comparing her patisserie to a musician releasing a new album, the owner credits her team of collaborators on ‘what a great compilation it is’.
This café is such a warm and inviting space with both a sophisticated and playful design, and we think everyone should be listening to The House of Dre.