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52: 15 - Eugenius

Name: Eugenius
Address: 99 Hornby St, Windsor.
Web: www.eugenius.com.au
Owner: Eugene Shafir
Served by: Daisy

When friends of Super Tectonics visit Melbourne, there is one place we take them for food, coffee and a design overload - it’s called Eugenius. Because you walk in here and then emerge a couple of hours later, you don’t know where the time went but THIS is a good thing.

So what’s good about Eugenius?

Eugene is the owner of Eugenius (Eugene+genius), a philosopher and foodie and it feels as if you are sitting in Eugene’s amazing brain whilst in the café. It is a cacophony of ‘things’ from furniture, to art, to artefacts, tables, chairs, materials, finishes and lighting. It’s welcoming and homely; an organised-disorganised chaos that makes one feel so damn comfortable. But once you look past the layers objects the bones of the space reveal themselves quite nicely.

The spatial planning is great – a mandatory feature it seems for most Melbourne places we have been reviewing – maximising internal space and not overcapitalising. A small two seater outside area is protected and creates activity out front to get the attention of passers by. A cosy standing zone for takeaways and a protected internal bathroom is great. Small tables at are at the front with two seaters along the narrow side near the kitchen. This front area is white and bright and illuminated by the large glass pane at the front, kitschy candy coloured chandelier and oversized poppy pink painting.

The major joinery element within the space is the cake display and series of moveable kitchen joinery pieces. A mish-mash of elements that create a high bar effect where you walk past seeing directly into the tiny kitchen. Daisy tells me the kitchen is small, but it works well when the café is at maximum capacity, and that’s the major test really. Ceiling mounted black SHS (Square hollow sections) welded shelves above the kitchen benches create much needed storage space, and display tins of food, jars of this and that plus spices and anything else that can fit – all adding to the tapestry of colours and objects displayed everywhere.

Half way into the café the ceiling finish changes to beautiful rich timber boards, and as you walk past the kitchen you emerge into a dark den at the rear of the cafe. A large rich parquetry timber table and huge stone slab table sit amongst painted black bricks, glossy black cupboard doors and a wall of sculptural busts and heads illuminated by LED strip lighting - peering, watching over you. Sitting on the tan leather upholstered chairs adds a tactile richness to the space, whilst the clear acrylic Louis ghost chairs are a perfect solution for a tight, jam packed back area.

This area feels like you are in MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) – moody, enveloping, semi subversive enhanced by the beautiful backdrop of a mini courtyard. This courtyard would have otherwise been the dead space under a stair above and Eugenius has created a stunning backdrop to the drama occurring within. This courtyard is only 1 meter or so deep, a tiny outlook in the scheme of things; however the “depth” it adds to this space is ridiculous.

What could be better about Eugenius?

It’s a recurring theme, but a big one. Views into the back of house area can be troublesome and the very evolutionary nature of the Eugenius café means that a lot of it is on display.

This is a tiny kitchen area and you can see the team is short on storage. Also the food created in this kitchen is not basic, its rich and there is a variety and thus we take our hats of to the Eugenius team as they do well in a small space. Potentially re-doing the entire kitchen from a functional perspective would mean more efficiency in the back of house area however the cost implications of this would be a driving factor.

Ventilation isn’t the best in the kitchen and last time Super Tectonics was there some chorizo got a bit crispy and the whole place filled with smoke  - luckily the door to the mini courtyard is operable and we opened this, but a more resolved ventilation system could be integrated.

 What’s its thing?

Cafes aren’t supposed to look like this. But it is a café. And it does. And it’s amazing.

Defining Design Details

  • Sign writing signage - Super Tectonics loves a skilled craft and sign writing just adds romanticism to not only the café, but the street. Call Jacks Signs 0412 621 321 to get some work for yourself.

  • Steel Door handles - Custom ‘E’ Eugenius handles are comically oversized yet add a great architectural decorative element.

  • Gallery feel – For a tiny space there is a lot of art in here and none of it matches, it’s all framed and mounted differently and you know what? It’s pure perfection.

  • Timber ceiling – It changes the mood for the better. 

  • Eugene lives upstairs - So the door to his apartment is always open from the back ‘den’ and you feel like you are visiting a friend’s house.

  • Sparkie the dog and Maxwell the cat  - Eugene’s pets always say hello when you arrive. 

Eugenius is open 7 days a week, so you have no excuse not to visit this great space and experience an amazing environment.