Photos by Derek Swalwell

BICYCLE THIEVES CAFE

Bicycle Thieves is a vast, light filled eatery on the ground floor of a new apartment building in Northcote, Melbourne. The industrial shell of the development has been softened by a bright and friendly interior while paying homage to the 1948 Italian movie ‘Bicycle Thieves’.


The design is a modern interpretation of the nostalgic movie, referencing timeless mid century modern materials and details, and blending into the history of the neighbourhood’s historic Italian heritage.
Polished curved chrome banquette frames reference traditional bicycle frames, soft raspberry and olive leather reminds one of bespoke stitched bicycle saddles.
Lighting is used to create zones in the large industrial open space. Linear pendants above the main bar are both statement and task lighting. Globe pendants above the large steel communal tables bring scale to the interior. The white track lighting that follows the perimeter raspberry banquette seating blends into the space.
Every element of the joinery has been carefully considered to fit into the space and to be in proportion to each zone. There are various seating options, from traditional bench seating, to sculptural communal tables for large groups and families, to high standing ledges inspired by traditional Italian coffee bars. Seating is paired with rich, warm timber tables to soften the feel of the industrial base build.
Bespoke concave tiles in a grid of polished metal, textured glass and accents of brass complement the material palette further.
The design also plays with various scales and jumps between alternating ceiling heights and different seating heights, while still remaining inviting to everyone.
As in the Italian tradition, the kitchen is part of the space, remaining open, welcoming the eye to be a part of the cooking experience.
Joinery items, including water stations and wash basins, essential to the operation of the business, have been re-envisaged and incorporated as furniture items rather than simply practical necessities.
The backlit bespoke logo inset into the timber panelling is an unconventional approach adding a sense of playfulness to the interior. Brass arches above the walkway are also a fun element of the cafe experience.