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Interior Design & Art Curation

Remembering Babalou

Feb 1, 2023 | Art, Interior Design, Media

Back in 2010, I collaborated with my long-time friend and Australian artist Scott Redford on the design and curation of restaurant and bar BABALOU, which was developed upstairs at the old Kingscliff Hotel in the sleepy, seaside northern New South Wales town of Kingscliff.

The project was really the first of its kind to exist, as far as I know, on the whole of the eastern seaboard of Australia. It was unique and very progressive in that every single piece of furniture, including art and objects sourced for the project, was vintage, antique or preloved.

We found an array of beautiful mid-century sofas, slipper chairs, wing backs and dining chairs that we lovingly restored back to life in assorted jewel-coloured velvets that created numerous sitting, conversation and casual dining areas.

We single-handedly revived the Peacock chair (which seemed to take off in popularity worldwide in the ensuing years) by including a collection of stunning original Peacocks, which we had sprayed gloss white. They added wonderful height and scale to the ‘low slung’ vibe of the lounges, which even included sofas by legendary designer Vladimir Kagan.

The other design highlight choice was the sourcing and inclusion of a vast amount of amber-coloured vintage swag lights from all across America, which we installed to create wonderful mood lighting.

Babalou was also the first venue to include a functioning Record Library, which was located in a separate area and was able to be accessed by patrons who could spin a disc while they waited for a table.

On the walls hung a plethora of amazing large-scale vintage art, including a 4-metre-long replica of a painting by American artist Frank Stella. The Record Library housed an iconic black assembly work by Scott Redford that featured electric guitars and surfboards.

Sadly, the venue was ahead of its time in style but, more importantly, location. There just didn’t seem to be enough people in the area to make it economically viable, and Management later changed up the space to become a wedding venue for functions.

We found out years later that the incredible furnishings, art, and objects were jettisoned to a shipping container for storage. The contents fell into disrepair and remained for many years unloved and either stolen or vandalised.

If only we had been given the chance to buy back the contents which we had so lovingly searched for, the calibre of which today would be highly collectible, rare and valuable on today’s market.

Janelle Watson-Evans


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