Just recently, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) invited IHS as one of three contenders to present a pop-up food stall concept that aimed to showcase Melbourne’s globally renowned ‘multiculturalism through food’ experiences. Indeed, we took on the challenge and proudly won!
The brief was to capture Melbourne’s culinary scene – exciting, diverse and vibrant – and create a live-cooking concept that, in essence, ‘brings the streets of Melbourne indoors’.
For those of you overseas and yet to visit, Melbourne is known as the cultural mecca of Australia, with a population made up of individuals from over 140 nations. This eclectic mix of cultures contributes to the myriad of restaurants and cafes offering the world’s most superb cuisines. We were excited to be designing a food station that was to embody this.
At MCEC, the Food & Beverage team are sharp, experienced, cultivated. Testament to their success is the way they have propelled the centre’s F&B and guest experience to the forefront of innovation. Working closely with this dynamic team, it becomes easy to see how the MCEC remains effortlessly contemporary even after 22 years. They remain open to ideas and innovative in their drive to offer unique experiences at MCEC.
At IHS, our in-house Design team work on design projects with great passion and unique flair. Our Designers enjoy venturing into bold new territories, but also thrive in reinvigorating and reinventing old ones. They take pleasure in coming up with ingenious designs that inspire.
With the marriage of these two dynamic teams – a great collaboration is born! The teams worked together cohesively, sharing concepts, ideas and our passions, to bring the vision alive.
Our Designers walked the distinct dining precincts in our town, narrowing down to all-time favourites: exceptional coffee culture from the heart of Degraves Street, Modern Australian epicure from the urban-infused Hosier Lane, a vibrant buffet of vast Asian cuisine in historical Chinatown, and the mouth-watering tastes of a Spanish fiesta at Queen Victoria Market.
Delving even deeper into the streetscape, our Designers were inspired by distinct asymmetrical, triangular and geometric patterns that spread across Melbourne’s prominent spaces – Federation Square, Melbourne Cricket Grounds, Queen Victoria Market and even within Aboriginal art, to the City of Melbourne’s logo itself!
Initial concepts were presented to the MCEC F&B team, and after a few revisions and the inclusion of edgy street-style graphics, our collaborative efforts evolved into the final product.
The result was a pop-up food station that truly represents Melbourne’s remarkable, culturally-diverse culinary scene with quintessential Melbourne branding incorporated.
From an industrial design perspective, the food station ticked all the boxes in regards to operational efficiency such as speed of set up and general use, minimal storage needs, and ease of transport. For efficiency, it included a foldable awning; for interchangeable themes it included removable graphic panels; for visual impact it included an LED lighting option; for versatility, it included insertable, exchangeable live cooking appliances; and for maximum impact, it included media screen options.
Visually, Melbourne’s distinct lines-design style, as mentioned previously, was reflected in the wire support bars for the food station frames.
The food station was unveiled at MCEC’s expansion launch, offering guests a taste of all food-things Melbourne. The chef enjoyed cooking and serving from the food station, and guests responded emotionally, lively in nature as they enjoyed the city’s vibrant outdoors right inside the expanse of the convention and exhibition centre. Beyond just the launch event, the food stations will be used for multipurpose event styles such as alfresco dining stands, hawker food market stalls, etc.
It was a great pleasure to once again work closely with the MCEC team to bring added life and theatre into the Centre!