Imagine wandering down a bustling street in Milan or Rome. You come across a crowded little bistro, frequented by locals and visitors alike.

Mirac­u­lous­ly, there’s one emp­ty table and you swift­ly claim it. Look­ing around the ani­mat­ed space, it’s impos­si­ble to say if it’s decades old, or a warm and wel­com­ing new estab­lish­ment. This was the vision for Etta, now per­fect­ly at home in Brunswick East. 

Brunswick, Wurund­jeri Woi Wur­rung Land



Floor area


We began with just one foun­da­tion ele­ment: the orig­i­nal black and grey speck­led ter­raz­zo floor of uncer­tain age.

Encir­cling the bar are tall and thin low-backed Iva’ stools (named after Direc­tor Iva Fos­chia). A wide bur­gundy cush­ioned ban­quette is framed in bronze pearl steel, with room for patrons to sit either side. The walls through­out are unadorned. A mix of raw cement sheet, spaced to empha­sise the shad­ow lines of the joins, or sol­id plas­ter with French wash to cre­ate a pati­na of soft ageing.

A long din­ing bench extends from the open kitchen, topped with Aus­tralian Emper­ador mar­ble from Chilla­goe in flow­ing pat­terns of black and rusty red mar­ble. The green palette is lat­er mir­rored in the inti­mate cush­ioned din­ing booths, lit by an inter­nal court­yard with fer­ny planters and a leafy mur­al paint­ed by Mel­bourne artist Robert Bow­ers. The mar­ble bench, built to seat 10, extends into the main din­ing area, a mix­ture of inti­mate tables, both square and cir­cu­lar, with tra­di­tion­al bent­wood chairs and com­fort­able booths.

The over­all impres­sion is of an ani­mat­ed space, a homage to the local area, famil­iar, com­fort­ing and wel­com­ing. A place that exudes time­less authen­tic­i­ty and char­ac­ter that in truth did not exist before the project began.