Interiors by Alex Zabotto-Bentley of AZBcreative
From the designer:
The iconic and historic 1854 Melbourne landmark The European Hotel in St Kilda has had the ultimate of make-overs, with famed Melbourne restaurateur and entrepreneur Mario Di Nardo engaging award winning interior designer director Alex Zabotto-Bentley of AZBcreative to undertake the comprehensive makeover.
The results are breathtaking, including the four ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s’ in the Rafael’s casual dining restaurant.
In The European Hotel and each of its three impressive dining areas, Zabotto-Bentley’s layered, detailed approach to design is apparent in every corner, says Di Nardo.
Zabotto-Bentley was inspired by the authentic Italian cuisine within and the history of the site, when inspiration came by way of moody, ambient private spaces, and rustic walls coming to life with spectacular and colourful pop art – 4 limited edition screen prints of Neo Expressionist artist Shane Bowden’s modern interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with wild overprinting and potent colours.
The end result mixes drama, detail, the balance between mood and eccentricity, as well as modernity mixed with classical, something Zabotto-Bentley said suited the space and Di Nardo’s brief perfectly.
“This is inherently how I design – by reading the space and its purpose – and Di Nardo was a perfect bouncing board, giving me incredible reign and support for my vision for his very special hotel.”
The European and all the respective environments within – from Rafaels, Crudino, and Privato to The Melbourne room – were an exercise in creating spaces that spoke to the Italian heritage of both Di Nardo and to design director Alex Zabotto-Bentley.
Both Di Nardo and Zabotto-Bentley have a great love of classic Italian design, hospitality and of course Italian food.
Alex Zabotto-Bentley was tasked to create decorative and artful layers; a narrative throughout every space of The European that spoke of elegance and luxury – which is his signature style.
Taking the physical design that was created by Di Nardo, the interior designer transformed multiple interior spaces into a narrative of fine taste and beautiful detail.
Di Nardo and Zabotto-Bentley forged a unique relationship because at their foundation they both have Italian blood pumping through their veins.
The designer says: “We have discerning, and very particular points of view and we really resonate with each other.”
Zabotto-Bentley tapped into his love of drama, detail, the balance between mood and eccentricity, modernity mixed with classical.
“It is inherently to how I design, and Di Nardo was a perfect bouncing board, giving me incredible reign and support for my vision for his very special hotel.”
Reimagining this iconic site was exciting for Alex Zabotto-Bentley as he wanted to imbue an aesthetic and personality and introduce key stand out elements.
In every space there are iconic Italian elements but these are treated differently in respect to each environment.
The look is elegant Italian with a lyrical and intelligent twist.
“I love introducing never before seen elements or entirely custom elements, such as art, décor, fabrics, furniture within my interiors to really creating a talking point for patrons,” says c. “People really notice these unique elements and they become iconic to the spaces I design.”