The Art of Reimagination

Australian designer Fiona Lynch reimagined the TarraWarra Museum of Art’s multi-use gallery foyer with the past and future in mind


In the Yarra Valley, designer Fiona Lynch has given her artistic touch to the gallery foyer of the TarraWarra Museum of Art. The museum, one of Australia’s finest privately funded public art institutions, opened in 2002 and moved to its permanent home in 2003. Lynch was asked to reconceptualise the space in a way that reflects the museum’s emphasis on the experiential, unexpected and collaborative. In addition to retail, the 95-square-metre gallery foyer is intended as a multi-use space for events and functions.

‘The design needed to feel timeless and as if it was a part of the original architecture, but also speak to the modernisation and evolution of the museum, and at the same time show an exploration of our own ideas. We wanted to use materials that showed both heritage and evolution,’ Lynch explains. The studio achieved this with a tactile material palette of hand-worked and sculptural aluminium, Victorian bluestone tablets, earthy transparent resin that mimics the museum’s rammed earth facade, and timber and leather plinths. Together with the selection of finishes and creation of sight lines that direct towards the vineyard views, the studio’s approach was respectful to the design intent of TarraWarra’s architect Allan Powell.

Lynch also aimed to create balance and contrast with the architecture’s monolithic joinery by incorporating slender forms: the slim lines of the folded steel shelving, tables and jewellery display cases create new pathways and also capture the attention of visitors as they pass through the area. Local artisans, established and emerging, were invited to contribute to the project. The studio collaborated with designers Daniel Barbera, Makiko Ryujin and Josh Carmody, and together their respective works — including linished metal shelving, charred timber displays and slender tables — enhance the sense of flexibility required for the space.

‘We wanted to showcase a contemporary retail environment that was worthy of the museum and all it stands for, and that doesn’t appear temporary when compared to the significance of the architecture,’ Lynch says. The curved lines and sculptural forms, in tandem with the dramatic lighting, build upon the spatial and art experience for museum visitors, from the moment of approaching the building to the time spent exploring the galleries within it.

Text / Rossara Jamil
Images / Sharyn Cairns