At the annual Melbourne Cup Carnival in Flemington, Melbourne, the thrill of thoroughbred horse racing ties neck and neck with the spectacle of The Birdcage. It’s the exclusive invitation-only zone where temporary sponsor pavilions assembled and fitted-out over several months vie for design accolades and media attention.
Odds on favourite, The Lexus Design Pavilion, leads the competition with its most sophisticated and challenging creation to date. Inspired by a theme synonymous with Lexus’ 2015 presentation at Milan Design Week – 'Journey of the Senses' – guests are immersed in an all-encompassing sensory experience.
'Each year we work on what we call a pursuit of perfection. We improve, innovate and are bold with the project,' enthuses Adrian Weimers, corporate manager for Lexus Australia.
The exterior of the three-storey pavilion is densely entwined with thousands of metres of recycled wire. Sustainable design expert, Joost Bakker, intricately twisted the material to recreate an enormous bird’s nest of rusted copper-toned roots.
Stepping inside, the nest unravels to showcase drinking, dining and lounge areas furnished by Miriam Fanning, director of Mim Design Studio. She interprets the ‘growth into fruition’ design brief with a palette ranging from soothing pistachio to rich emerald tones for plush velvet upholstery, through to textured floor finishes, and the use of vertical timber framing painted white to create an alpine-fresh, forest-like setting. Bunches of pink tulips with their bulbs attached are suspended throughout. Completing the Arcadian fantasy is artist Georgie Seccull’s wall feature comprising a kaleidoscope of exquisitely detailed white paper butterflies.
The pavilion’s custom-designed wallpaper with abstract green tones printed onto a metallic silver surface plays with the notion of reflection whilst the sheen of the Carrara marble bar and table surfaces add polished elegance. This concept is echoed in the upstairs restaurant where Ben Shewry, from the esteemed Melbourne fine diner Attica, offers four-course lunches with a focus on native ingredients. Here, Bakker’s nest theme is translated in miniature, with circular mirrors suspended from entangled wires over each dining table, reflecting Shewry’s whimsical offerings.
Setting out to 'transport Lexus guests beyond the racetrack, into a world of state-of-the-art design, it’s hard to believe the pavilion is a temporary structure', says Fanning of the carnival, which spans just six days.
The pavilion’s entry showcases the new luxury Lexus New Generation RX vehicle as interpreted by Nicolas Hogios, chief designer at Lexus Australia. A life-size polystyrene foam sculpture chiseled by a 5-Axis machine imitates the sharp angular design of the new model. It subtly changes form towards its rear, morphing into abstraction, and eventually melting into a curved mirror that replicates its body in infinity.
The most prestigious race, the Cup itself, takes place today (3 November). Bets are on that once Lexus guests enter the enchanted pavilion, the event itself may gallop into oblivion.