- Jackson Clements Burrows Architects
- Point of View
- Wood & Grieve
Mercedes Me Melbourne is a hospitality and events space operated by Mercedes Benz Australia in collaboration with St Ali Group. Situated on the ground level of the Rialto, on the corner of Collins and King Streets, the site occupies a highly prominent position in an area of the city currently undergoing extensive regeneration. The Mercedes Me store is neither a car showroom nor simply a restaurant – it seeks to operate as a showcase for Mercedes-Benz’s active role in Melbourne’s cultural landscape, through its support of festivals, events, food, design and bespoke artisan culture.
The Mercedes design brief required an understanding of complex brand aspirations. Functionally the space transitions seamlessly from daytime cafe and meeting place to evening event space for opening parties, launches and black-tie functions. The design language negotiates a delicate line between a branded and a yet uniquely Melbourne space.
The idea of the home emerged. The local café is, for many a Melburnian, an extension of their lounge room. A familiar space to both gather and retreat. Spaces were developed to differ in size and character, oscillating between private nooks, gathering spots and public-facing zones that interact with surrounding streetscape.
The design responds to Rialto’s redevelopment ambitions, to amplify business performance by improving the social and cultural amenity of the Rialto precinct. Mercedes Me provides a focal point for development. Improving the public realm and retail experience at the base of the towers, enhances tenancy appeal.
Mercedes\’ desire to reach out to new target groups was central to design thinking. Young-minded, modern and digitally savvy (potential) customers, who would not necessarily visit a traditional car dealership, receive subtle brand appreciation. Using sophisticated digital insertions, the space creates an immersive retails-meet-hospitality experience in which the car is still the (subtle) focal point.
Occupying a highly prominent position in an area of the city currently undergoing extensive regeneration, the design needed to respond to this urban renewal. By providing a social and events space, the venue aligns with larger-scale plans by the City of Melbourne to forge a richer fabric for social interactions and street life towards the CBD western boundaries. The interior design transforms the brand experience by drawing from a range of disparate influences, precedents and specifications to create a space that responds to the client’s desire to engage new audiences, while also remaining true to their own sophisticated reputation for design.
To realise the innovative aspirations of the brief, interior design language was developed to negotiate the space between hospitality and events. Inspiration was drawn from the Mercedes-Benz factories of the mid-20th century, particularly their fine suspended steel-work and production line processes. The gesture of the frame became the driving force behind the design, an element to wrap around and unify the space: becoming the balustrade, the lighting frame and so on. From day into night, a curtain wraps around the inner framed volume and transforms it into an event area, a stage, the centrepiece of which is the car.
The cultural impact of the project has exceeded expectations. A range of events involving practitioners and artisans from diverse industries has been held, from horticulture experts and jewellery makers to calligraphers, illustrators and designers. These events have brought a constant stream of diverse visitors into the space, and revealed new ways to utilise its domains. According to the client, employees love working in the space. It’s become a popular spot for job interviews, client meetings, catch-ups and romantic interludes. Creatives and corporate clients alike have claimed the space, enjoying the buzz of activity the multilevel facility provides.