In the last 12 months, Foley Street has transformed from a forgotten backstreet of Darlinghurst into its own community of local makers...
We’re part of City of Sydney’s creative spaces program; a number of properties are leased to creatives in areas they might not typically be able to afford. Clara, a jewellery maker whose business is called Burton Metal Depository, has a jewellery bench in the shop Fine Fellow. Marina, from Bermuda Black, is a shoemaker and fashion designer. Her custom-made shoes are extraordinary. Spunky Bruiser recycle fabric to create loud and fun garments. And Jess at the Tribe curates a shop that has a lot of Australian design and art.
Your shop Studio Enti is undergoing a transformation. What are your plans?
I recently moved the production side of my business to Botany. I create porcelain tableware and lighting with a simple, functional yet beautiful design so that people can use them every day. I’ve been running kintsugi workshops for a few years now, where people bring in broken ceramics that hold a lot of meaning and personal connection, and going through the process of repairing them is quite beautiful. I’m looking at doing a program of night-time classes and weekend workshops, so I’ll have artist-run classes like handbuilding, sculpture, painting. I’ve also received a Night-time diversification grant to run a series of pop-up dinners with local chefs that’ll be a mixture of food, music and ceramics, and ‘midnight picnics’ based around communal eating. We’re planning to launch in May.
Why is it important to shop local?
This area’s unique in that we are all local makers. Shopping local is important for our creative industry. Here you can meet the people making the products and have things made for you in a bespoke sense. It’s not that easy to come by elsewhere.
Where do you like to shop?
Ariel Booksellers – I go there for gifts, cards and to treat myself to a book. There’s a clothing shop on Burton Street called Footage – Phil has a stunning selection of clothes, unique Italian leather goods and shoes. There’s a whole host of vintage stores, but the Record Store on Crown Street is great.
Are there any hidden, local gems that people might not know?
There’s this little restaurant down here called Chaco Bar, which is an authentic Japanese yakitori restaurant. Equally, there’s Nom – another Japanese eatery that’s family-run, small, intimate and authentic in a completely different way. Both are fantastic.
Where do you go for an after-work tipple?
We go to the Commons on Thursday nights – they have a jazz band. Pocket Bar is also a stone’s throw [away] – beautiful space, great atmosphere and staff. A little further afield, the East Village Hotel has had a really beautiful rooftop garden and we’ve been up there a number of times. Green Park and the Darlo Bar are always fun.
And coffee for the morning after?
Proteini Cafe is great for vegan and veggie food – they’re always busy, especially on the weekends. Edition Coffee Roasters have dainty, refined brekkies with great flavours. And there’s a Brazilian cafe called Ovo – they do traditional lunches and snacks.
How would you like to see Darlinghurst develop in the next ten years?
A continuation of the same laneway culture that we’re starting to build here. There’s been a lot of great revitalisation, like at the Eternity Playhouse. As a laneway, we have visions for hosting outdoor performances and nighttime markets. This place has a lot of potential.
Naomi’s day in Darlo
Edition Coffee Roasters is a pretty special café. Not only is it beautiful to be in – all mid-century-style Nordic furnishings, white walls and wide open, galley kitchen – but the food is a fusion of Japanese and Nordic vibes, with a bit of French thrown in for good measure.
The shop works as a platform for local designers’ works, such as Jeff McCann’s hand painted cardboard jewellery or Eggpicnic’s childlike galah prints and gift cards, but owner Jess Polaschek is also an advocate for after-hours events so the space hosts workshops, talks and exhibitions to encourage shoppers to the laneway.
It’s all sticks all the time, here at this tiny Japanese yakitori restaurant built on the old Jazz City Diner site. You want heart pipes? Liver? Gizzards? Gristle? They’ve got 'em, along with plenty more protein that isn’t quite so gutsy. The meats are grilled over white charcoal and served over piles of roughly chopped raw white cabbage.
Jewellery designer Clara Ho handcrafts men’s jewellery under the name Burton Metal Depository. She works out of her concept retail store on Foley Street called Fine Fellow, which sells men’s fashion, accessories, homewares and gifts. You can expect to find locally-made products, from Peggy and Finn’s floral print cotton ties to minty beard oil by the Groomed Man Co.
Marina Roorda used to make and sell brogues and leather boots to order from her Blacktown home, but nowadays you’ll find her custom shoe and clothing designs at her workspace-cum-retail store in Foley Street. Roorda now goes by the name Bermuda Black and the colour scheme is muted dark tones. At the store you can watch Marina at her worker’s bench as she crafts leather belts, and minimalist suiting for men and women.
Ariel Booksellers has always lived on Oxford Street, but in 2017 the store relocated from its Paddington address to a smaller store wedged between Big Poppa’s and the Work-Shop Makery in Darlo. Though the space is smaller than the original store, they still stock beautiful coffee-table tomes, as well as fresh fiction, non-fiction and books specialising in fashion, film and poetry.
Owners Rebecca Frost and Christian Orso make one-off men’s, women’s and children’s clothing by hand, using reclaimed and repurposed materials. Their store Spunky Bruiser – on Foley Street – specialising in sustainable and ethical fashion that has been customised with stencilling, applique techniques.
Pocket is one of the city’s original small bars and still offers plenty of reasons to visit. The bar staff are knowledgeable, on the ball and can whip up a cocktail deserving of its price tag. Add a soundtrack that flips between the Preatures and the Searchers and an extensive drinks menu and you have a delightful package worthy of a space in Sydney’s ever-expanding bar scene.
Scattered plants and cosy wooden tables in the courtyard make the Commons a summer hot spot within the 2010 zone, but the bar’s sandstone rooms are where it’s at all year round. Come Wednesday or Thursday night when a blues band plays Downtown. Live music turns this place into the best underground bar in the hood.
We don’t need to tell you how much Sydney loves a rooftop bar, and the top floor addition to the East Village Hotel (previously the Darlo Village) is an A-grade, lofty drinking perch. It’s not a huge space, so arriving before the crowds is always a smart plan of attack.