2014 Melbourne Design Awards

Image Credit : James Newman


Project Overview

Positioned in the art grunge scene of Melbourne’s iconic Brunswick Street Fitzroy, Wine Republic is a 100m2 new concept store redefining the humble bottle shop.

Project Commissioner

Wine Republic

Project Creator

Red Design Group


Darren Hose – Principal
Colin Bell – Creative Director
Aaron Chen – Designer
Rhys Mullarvey – Documentation Manager
Olga Grueva – Brand Director
In addition there were many local people that were used in this very collaborative project: Artist Alex Hotchin, Lighting sculpture Daniel Giffin, Jeremy Taylor for the VM installations and Guy Mathews Furniture. Branding logo was done by Layton Creative.

Project Brief

Our clients extensive private equity funding of national retail opportunities enabled a brief targeting a specific market segment. It required a design solution that was to be local, approachable, knowledgeable, urban and unique.
With the rise of the inner city craft markets and Fitzroy’s growing reputation for street art, our aim was to introduce an arts focus incorporating sculptural talking points, illustrations and visual merchandising opportunities that complimented the Wine Republic brand values. Within a long narrow tenancy we created a design solution that enabled the product to be the hero within an environment that stimulated customers to purchase. Our challenge was that the product was generally all the one size. We introduced visual breaks to decrease the depth and heighten the experience. Vertical banding on the walls, achieved by cutting the existing plaster to expose original brickwork, shortened the depth of the space and added textural colour. Varying the height and depth of the wall fixtures created a fractured shelving system, avoiding an overwhelming wall of wine bottles on the one plane.

Project Innovation/Need

Oversized sculptural category signage guides customers and accentuates the ceiling height, leading to the lighting sculpture positioned over the tasting table. This 800 green bottle installation, nicknamed the ‘Wine Cloud,’ was a close collaboration between Red Design Group and local lighting designer Daniel Giffin.
We also introduced local artist Alex Hotchin who created a freehand line drawing applied to the shopfront façade. Her creativity extends to the wall behind the sales counter where a local map of Collingwood and Fitzroy is positioned. Her themes of the local city are inspired by ‘Oh the places you’ll go’ and add for a playful and quirky addition to the streetscape.
Through our engaging with local artists, furniture makers and craftsman, we feel the project has grounded its roots in the suburb. Fitzroy locals Jeremy Taylor for the VM installations and Guy Mathews for the recycled Tasting Table only added to our journey in a very collaborative approach of disciplines. With the start-up business now only 6 months old it has already gained a strong following both locally and among its peers, having recently been named best Australian Independent Wine Shop in The Wine Rules 2014 awards

Design Challenge

The biggest design challenge we met was the budget which we had to cut by around 15% after the tender process, due to some of the onsite constraints. The prep work on the flooring ended up being more than the builder first estimated, when we pulled up the existing platform within half of the store and realised the change in levels were quite extreme. The other major issue was the cost of the external façade works due to the trams and overhead power lines back to the building. Having to close off the power lines meant the tram network was affected, at huge cost, so we had a window of opportunity in the middle of the night to paint, apply artwork and install illuminated signage. The more nights it took, the more expensive it became, so we ended up deleting the second external sign at high level to save costs and along with respecifying some of the internal finishes managed to bring the budget back to where the client wanted it to be.


Aiming to recycle where possible and reuse existing materials and fittings, we managed to maintain the existing shopfront and sliding door mechanism, peel back plaster to the original brick wall finish for some warmth and texture and maintained the timber ceiling lining. In the process of cutting back the plaster we revealed an amazing brick archway that had been hidden behind, further adding to the texture of the walls. With a tight budget we endeavoured to keep the materials simple and limit their number to minimize waste, in all 3 finishes were used within the fixturing. All our other display units were recycled furniture pieces found within a 100m radius of the store. All of our collaborators we tried to find in the area also, from VM to artwork, lighting designers and even down to the Red Design Group’s lead designer who lives locally and walked to site.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors, with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.  

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