Vienna Kaffeehaus at NGV

The very first pop up in the NGV’s beloved Great Hall called for theatrical lighting, bold shapes, and the air of a European soiree.





Sonia Mangiapane


Completed while director of meme

We delivered the National Gallery of Victoria’s first ever hospitality pop-up in 2011; a celebration of their Winter Masterpieces exhibition, ‘Vienna Art and Design’. The opportunity to design for Melbourne’s preeminent art institution presented a milestone for our practice.

Vivid and energetic, our Vienna Kaffeehaus installation was a temporary intervention purpose-built to engage the public and meet the scale of such an iconic location. We drew on strong design cues to artists and designers of the Secessionist period, finding a natural sympatico between the colourful crafted tiled walls at the historic Viennese Cabaret Fledermaus, and the Leonard French stained-glass ceiling of the Great Hall.

Viennese style cafe hallway in National Gallery of Victoria

A black-and-white tiled floor and the selection of #12 and #14 Thonet chairs evoke the work of leading Austrian architect and designer, Joseph Hoffman. Amongst lush green foliage, custom-designed LED light follies frame and define the vertiginous triple-height space. The effect: a striking, unlikely convergence of classic and contemporary, appearing entirely of the moment.

Vienna Kaffeehaus pop-up cafe's illuminated screen front
A black-and-white tiled floor, lush green foliage, and custom-designed led light follies striking a classic moment.

The grand opening of the exhibition was conducted in front of the cafe’s illuminated screen by Dr Gerard Vaughan and Ted Bailleau, Premier of Victoria, on 16 June 2011. The NGV’s Great Hall has since played host to many immersive temporary activations, and we take pride in our early role in this exciting chapter of cultural engagement.