168 Edward St, Brisbane QLD
Every self-consciously upmarket commercial centre aims to have one: a standout precinct of luxe retailers. Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Dior, Ferragamo, Gucci… the list is as familiar as it is exclusive.
Brisbane’s Edward Street plays host to a deluxe conga line of prestige marques, including an interloper, a homegrown Australian success story: Mitchell Ogilvie.
Actually, ‘interloper’ is the wrong word. Mitchell Ogilvie can almost single handedly take credit for the gentrification of the Edward Street shopping strip. Some 30 years ago he put his name above the door of a men’s outfitter, making a name for himself, and attracting others in the Birdcage set along the way.
And to understand how, you need to understand the eponymous Mr. Ogilvie a little.
Mitchell Ogilvie, the rag trade entrepreneur, is a hard-working, charming perfectionist.
And, indeed, a man not afraid to think big, and back himself to the hilt when he makes his move. “There are times when you can’t be frugal, when you have to do it properly,” Ogilvie has been reported as saying. “We spent a lot of money getting it right here.”
Ogilvie is referring to his freshly pressed Edward Street flagship store — 30 metres down the road from his original address — and at around $2m for the fitout he’s not exaggerating.
To make the effort of moving, the reasons needed to be compelling. The fitout needed to be classic and timeless — as much for the benefit of his clientele as a statement about ‘doing it once, doing it right’. It called for an absolutely precise finish, despite being built on a heritage site that had seen multiple tenants and fitouts.
The design by Sue Coles, of Baenziger Coles, reflected simple lines, classical French Oak finishes, parquetry flooring and a neutral colour palette. It says that exclusivity does not need to be ostentatious.
The site itself, however, threw up multiple challenges. The shop actually straddles two separate buildings. Tú Projects had to cut through the two solid masonry walls and build a waterproofed bridge between the spaces. Internally, the slab floor required a new stairwell cut into it and an old one filled with all the structural challenges that this clearly involved. The same floor, which had been recapped almost a dozen times needed to be jackhammered back to its base layer to suitably take the precision parquetry floor. There was also the reconstruction and cladding of the building’s heritage awning. The pressed metal street-side ceiling shows the attention to detail throughout this project.
All of this was achieved in a building on one of Brisbane City’s busiest car and foot thoroughfares. With no on-site parking and restrictive working hours, Tú Projects had to work to a highly compressed timescale to complete the program.
The final product displays all the hallmarks of fine craftsmanship in every detail. The French Oak joinery by Arc Joinery in Brisbane combines solid timber faces mitred to veneered drawer fronts and tie-racks. Benchtops are finished with hand-picked white Carrara marble. Drawer handles and balustrades are finished with finely-stitched leather. Custom made, ice-white skirting boards provide a clean contrast to the natural finish of the parquetry floor. And of course, there is the feature bespoke pendant light by the Gold Coast-based design and manufacture business — Yellowgoat.
Ogilvie said that to move his business felt like moving my home. “It also had the potential to upset my customers. I therefore had to be sure that the outcome showed we were moving up; creating a better environment for my clientele.
“I am thrilled with the results and have been overwhelmed with positive feedback from my customers. I hope people enjoy stepping into the new shop as much as I do.
“The build program went far better than I expected, because I knew it was not an easy site. I especially liked Tú’s open and transparent approach, it enabled me to see the true cost and focus on quality at a fair value. The service was very personal and nothing was any trouble.
“For the shop to now win best retail fitout in Queensland (at the 2012 ASOFIA Queensland Interior Fitout Awards) is a great honour. I really believe we have set a new benchmark.”