Luxury cooking appliance brand La Cornue has opened its flagship Sydney showroom in the vibrant design district of Surry Hills. Designed by Becky Yager for Thomas Hamel & Associates, the gallery-like space is an immersive experience that beautifully captures the Joie de Vivre of the La Cornue brand.
Established in France in 1908 by Albert Dupuy, La Cornue is deeply embedded in French culture. Recognised as a member of the Enterprises du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Companies) and Excellence Française (French Excellence), this prestige continues to propel La Cornue as a globally coveted brand, regarded for their hand-crafted excellence, rich history and exceptional cooking performance.
As an extension of the revered brand, the Sydney flagship is evidence that great minds think alike; La Cornue and Thomas Hamel & Associates principal Thomas Hamel have elegantly articulated a vision emphasising La Cornue’s celebration of craftsmanship and innovation. Guests can now explore La Cornue’s complete collections, the full array of customisable options and experience the limited-edition cookers first-hand.
Speaking with est from his Sydney-based practice, Thomas talked us through the unique alignment and design philosophies he shares with La Cornue, the inspiration behind the new showroom experience and his favourite moment within the space.
“The La Cornue product is fully customised, handcrafted and made to order, as are our projects. Never are there two the same, and this is a nice design principle that aligns both of our brands.”
– Thomas Hamel
La Cornue’s showroom features a luxurious palette of materials including the New York marble splashback from Worldstone with thick floating shelves and generous bull-nosed bench edges.
What was the underlying framework that informed the design of La Cornue’s flagship showroom in Sydney?
Thomas Hamel: We looked to the high-end and chic Parisian boutiques and a nod to elegant French bistros for our design inspiration. A strong street presence with large glass shopfront windows framed in black timber panelling, brass detailing, and La Cornue signage makes for a stylish brand presence with French flair, albeit with an Australian twist.
Were there any key considerations surrounding the brief?
Thomas Hamel: Having an elegant shopfront and a boutique feel were key considerations, as was creating visual interaction with the beautiful products inside. The prominent black double doors also hint at exclusivity, as it was always meant to be an appointment-only boutique. Internally, we needed to design various distinct landscapes to display the different models of the La Cornue products, each in an individual, glamorous kitchen setting.
What were your sources of inspiration behind the interior concept?
Thomas Hamel: We wanted to incorporate traditional French materials like farmhouse-style timber custom parquetry and the gloss black pressed-tin ceiling, all reminiscent of a bistro that has aged gracefully over time. Gastronomy-themed art was commissioned especially for the space to further add a decorative layer within the genuine kitchen displays. Art is always very important in our interiors.
Your practice draws on architecture, interiors, furniture and art through a ‘classic modernist’ lens. How does La Cornue’s showroom design straddle these disciplines?
Thomas Hamel: The showroom exterior, a classic High Street shopfront, could be found in many a city in Europe. Internally, we wanted to celebrate the incredible finishes the La Cornue product offers. So we complemented them with things like the Worldstone New York marble splashback, thick floating art shelves and generous bull-nosed bench edges, all working well with the cleaner lines of the white, chrome and brass Matthew Quinn Chateau 180 cooker and the custom hammered brass range hood.
A gloss bronze subway tiled wall behind classic La Cornue Black and Brass cabinetry anchors the bar display alongside integrated stainless steel Liebherr Monolith wine cabinets as a further modernist and slightly unexpected twist to the traditional La Cornue look. The still-life artwork and commissioned ceramics further add to the interplay between modern and classic.
A limited edition, hand-painted Chateau cooker by celebrated French artist Cyril Kongo adds a splash of colour to the Sydney showroom. Each of the six Château 150s were redesigned by Cyril to represent a different city, country, region or continent.
How has the close collaboration with La Cornue contributed to the final outcome?
Thomas Hamel: It was important to the design process for our settings to be understood and embraced by architects of varying disciplines. We wanted to ensure that architects and designers could imagine La Cornue products in more contemporary interiors as well, as traditional ones.
Which key materials did you work with in the space, and how did your team apply these in new or unexpected ways?
Thomas Hamel: The European Oak ‘Sepia’ timber floor from Precision Flooring and Tongue and Groove was completely customised to produce the diamond parquetry flooring in the showroom. We wanted the ‘Front Copper Display Foyer’ to exude a distinct entry hall feel compared to the rest of the showroom, as with entry halls in our homes. Here, a Grey Mink limestone tile was used in a similar diamond pattern to the rest of the flooring, framed with the same oak timber as the rest of the showroom. Gloss-painted pressed tin was used for taller parts of the ceiling to further bounce the light in this jewel box of a showroom, while the lower ceiling, housing air-conditioning and further services, has a simpler dark-painted treatment to it.
Custom Phillip Jeffries wallpaper from The Textile Company features prominently in the showroom. From concealing the rear exit door in a brass-studded black wallpaper to incorporating timber veneer wallpaper to the fronts of some cabinetry to hint at geometric woodwork – these touches add interest and style to the overall design.
Do you have a favourite element or ‘moment’ within the new space?
Thomas Hamel: The white Matthew Quinn display is a favourite of mine as it delivers a more contemporary look and holds its own next to the showstopping Stainless Steel La Cornue island, complete with Carbon Fiber Chateau 165 cooker. I also love the element of surprise of turning the final corner of the showroom and experiencing the pop of the green lacquer cabinetry of the back bar area.
La Cornue is dedicated to pursuing authenticity, craftsmanship and exploring modernity. Can you speak to the alignment between La Cornue and your own design philosophies?
Thomas Hamel: The La Cornue product is fully customised, handcrafted and made to order, as are our projects. Never are there two the same, and this is a nice design principle that aligns both of our brands. We are also devoted to quality in everything we do, and of course, La Cornue is exemplary in quality as well. We are truly aligned on that front!