Clark Bardsley Design 19 Work Club Global Freyja

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Clark Bardsley
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Clark Bardsley
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Soren Trampedach, Markus Tschuschnig, Jae Bang
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Studio Grayscale, Eatscape, Faculty Shopfitting
  • Client
    Work Club Global

Freyja Restaurant
Collins Street, Melbourne
Ground: 162m2 - 65 seats
Basement: 161m2 - 65 seats

Work Club's workplace precinct Olderfleet originally opened in November 2020, in one of the most beautiful buildings in Melbourne. Constructed in the 1880s, it is actually three Gothic and Victorian Romanesque buildings, joined by a 38 story high-rise workplace.

But something was missing. When the best street facing heritage space in the building became available, an idea began brewing. Work Club needed a kitchen to feed the precinct, and give the public a chance to experience this incredible building.

Work Club's founder Soren Trampedach is originally from Denmark and has lived all over the world. He realised Melbourne was missing a destination restaurant that featured the cuisine of Scandinavia. So, the concept became clear - to bring New Nordic principles to how we approach food to Australia.

Work Club's version of 'New Nordic' cuisine is a philosophy that takes the finest, region-specific produce – foraged ingredients are one of the many aspects for which Nordic cuisine is famous – using them to create bold, experimental dishes. The traditions of Western European cooking are eschewed for pickling, curing, smoking, preserving. It’s not only an exciting way to eat, but is also healthy and ethical.

Once Work Club had secured the space at Olderfleet, we began to design an experience that was both sophisticated and relaxing. The restaurant is set over 2 levels connected by a burnt red spiral staircase. The ground floor features a generous arrival hall and open kitchen, intimate booths and long feasting tables. The basement level contains the prep kitchen, private dining areas and portal to our existing basement cocktail bar Valhalla.

We introduced Scandinavian elements – simple, clean lines, a colour palette of ocean tones with hot accents, slatted timber on the ceiling that references Nordic maritime structures – to the design in a way that highlights the space’s architectural arches and heritage tiles and finishes. It respects the history of the building while creating an entirely contemporary backdrop for the star of the show: the menu.

Finding the right person to become our Executive Chef was one of the most important parts in our plan. Chef Jae Bang is that person. Originally from South Korea, he’s travelled the world honing his skills at some of the world’s finest restaurants. El Bulli, Arzak, Restaurant Daniel and New York’s Waldorf Astoria are all on his CV. Before arriving in Melbourne, he oversaw Norway’s Re-Naa Restaurant Group.

The dream was to bring Nordic cuisine to the forefront of people’s minds and have them enjoy it as part of an elevated and relaxed all-day dining experience. Freyja’s menu strikes the perfect balance between adventurous and classic, but always stays true to locally sourced ingredients treated simply and with respect.