Mad Men meets INXS inside The Joker and Thief bar designed by Fabric Architecture

Designed in collaboration with Studio Highfield, The Joker and Thief bar in Australia unites 1960s mid-century modern with 1980s glam-rock edge in its fun vs. moody interiors.

by Jincy Iype Published on : Nov 20, 2020

All things fun, flattering and moody manifest inside The Joker and Thief bar and restaurant designed by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield. It is described as a space where “Madmen meets INXS. This is officially a new genre; where 1960s mid-century modern has a 1980s glam-rock edge; where cocktail dresses comfortably sit alongside ripped jeans,” says Brent Fitzpatrick, Director, Fabric Architecture. 

  • Bar counter and back | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
    Bar counter and back Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture
  • Bar feature detail | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
    Bar feature detail Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture

The Joker and Thief borrows from the Bob Dylan lyric (All Along the Watchtower) and the titular song by hard rock band Wolfmother, revealing in its design a mix of old school glamour and punk grunge. The bar sits on the first floor of the old Hog’s Breath café along the prominent Terrigal oceanfront in Australia, reimagining the former eatery completely. The design also relays with its context of numerous restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and clubs that flank the whole beachside esplanade.

Couple seats in the restaurant | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
Couple seats in the restaurant Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture
Restaurant interiors | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
Restaurant interiors Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture

The Joker and Thief, therefore, had to be different from the rest. “It needed to be stylish and fun! A place where you can dress up to the nines, and look perfectly placed next to your mate in ripped jeans and T. Balmy ocean breezes come through the window as the champagne flows,” mentions Fitzpatrick.

The team at Fabric Architecture shares that the design concept was left up to them entirely, however, the project’s brief required something zany and unique, which the Central Coast had not yet experienced or seen in hospitality. “Xanthe from Stewart + Highfield is an excellent storyteller and has a keen eye for detail. We decided to collaborate with her early on to help set the narrative for the interiors,” adds Fitzpatrick.

Bar interiors | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
Bar interiors Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture
Restaurant interiors | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
Dark seating against a bright wall Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture

This place does not take itself too seriously.

The Joker and Thief is dominated by popping contrasting patterns, deep hues and almost no overhead lighting, its interior design embracing a fun yet classy character.  

Entrance with the neon sign | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield  | STIRworld
Entrance with the neon sign Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture
Velvet coloured seating against dark accents | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield  | STIRworld
Velvet coloured seating against dark accents Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture

A darkened stairway fixed with LED strip lights leads one into the bar and seating area, a neon pink sign signaling the name of the space. The bar and restaurant are kept separate, with the former taking up the front, and the back fitted with the dining space, adjacent to the kitchen. Massive sliding windows in the bar overlook the coast, views to which are maximised by incorporating a high bar and semicircular tables that face the openings. Sunsets permeate and transform the bar space daily, much to the delight of onlookers. “For us, the bar is our favourite, and is definitely the hero of the fit-out, creating a focal point for the space, highlighting the themes, styles and colours that have been incorporated into the project,” says the design team at Studio Highland.

Bar counter and back wall close-up | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
Bar counter and back wall close-up Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture
Seating faces the beachside | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
Seating faces the beachside Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture

Speaking about the challenges, the team shares that the existing kitchen and lift of the previous café became the central point of the planning and bar design. Another factor was that the bar is situated on the first floor, which meant unhampered views to the beach, but hindered personality for onlookers from the street level. “We wanted to set the mood from the street and also create a visually interesting entrance. The idea to create this monochromatic tunnel, lit by LED strip lights that lead you up to the Maitre d' and welcome station. The existing kitchen and lift shaft restraints set the direction during the spatial planning and were utilised by creating separate dining and bar zones,” shares Fitzpatrick.

  • The main bar space of the previous cafe | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
    The main bar space of the previous cafe Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture
  • The space before the redecoration | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
    The space before the redecoration Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture

A relaxed, jazzy vibe is set with subtle curves, planned symmetry, light wood features mixed with brass mirrors, relating to the “Madmen meets INXS” intent. The restaurant design employs seating covered with seaweed green, magenta and indigo blue velvet spread, which visually contrast with the powder pink and soft timber cladded walls. Along with the dark tabletops and counters, indoor plants drop down from a wire mesh fixed on the ceiling and the top of walls, injecting into the space a duskier, moodier personality.

Plants hover over dark booths and powder pink walls | The Joker and Thief by Fabric Architecture in collaboration with Studio Highfield | STIRworld
Plants hover over dark booths and powder pink walls Image: Courtesy of Fabric Architecture

“The best thing about The Joker and Thief is its ability to transform from a bright and airy day time restaurant to a sundowner bar, one that slowly changes with the ever-softening light of the sunset outside,” concludes Fitzpatrick.

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