Red Design Group worked closely with Sutherland District Trade Union Club to understand the profile of their core customer as the catalyst for the interior design of a new entry foyer and cafĂ©. Known as Tradies, the entertainment venue is favoured by the local 45-year plus baby boomers as a place where the matriarch of the family enjoys dining and relaxing with her family. And so every decision was reviewed from the fundamental question – are we delivering on the business strategy of meeting the needs of that core customer?

With a stated ‘core purpose of community support, ‘Tradies has a strong focus on customer care and ensuring that ‘every visitor has an exceptional experience.’ To deliver on that, the brief stipulated an interior that was of 5-star luxury-resort ilk.

Looking to the local context is a pivotal part of our initial research that’s fed into the design response. We recognised the strong involvement of Tradies in the local community – and so the design explored communicating that connection by drawing on tones and organic patterns from the surrounding Gymea and Cronulla bays and the greenery of Royal National Park.

An exciting discovery was an original painting by Sydney-based botanical artist, Susannah Blaxill, of the beautiful local Gymea Lily (the flower which inspired the suburb’s name). Red Design Group commissioned the original work as a design overlay, albeit a digital print interpretation in the upholstered wall treatment and as inspiration for the bespoke rug design. This also ramped up the local references.

Tradies illustrates our philosophy that good lighting can be a deal breaker. Through the design of the sizeable foyer feature light, there was the ambition of making a big statement, without it being too heavy or enclosing the space. The creation was realised in collaboration with Yellow Goat Design, custom lighting designers, who used an acrylic material to effectively evoke an organic fabric appearance. Whenever we specified or custom designed a fixture or fitting or chose a colour or material- our consistent motivation was to weave in that local relevance.

Our client embraced the opportunity to freshen up their long-standing brand alongside the physical renovation and extension of their amenities. Tweaked once and ever so slightly since its inception in 1960, the contemporary new logo fuses grass roots and history while also looking to the future. Red Design Group’s Graphic Design team respected our clients’ wishes to retain the Southern Cross stars as an acknowledgement of the continuing contributions the Trade Union movement makes to members and guests. At the same time, the new logo aims to communicate Tradies’ continued growth and development within the community.

The resulting design, which seamlessly integrates branding across all platforms from car park signage, to staff uniforms and the interior, makes for a greatly enriched result. It’s a difference you can feel. We were keen to ensure that each element formed part of a consistent story without looking like an add-on. Part of that process involved collaboration with fashion designers to present and talk through a range of options with our client to aid their selection of new uniforms. It holistically conveys the message that Tradies really cares about all of the small details and their impact on the customer experience – something that’s especially important in hospitality.

The interior design and new brand solution for Tradies is one that’s consistent with the Red Design Group philosophy which is not only focused on producing a design that’s exceptionally creative – but it also delivers to our client’s core customer and business strategy.

Impact on memberships following completion of the works in March, is best described as – astronomical. It’s no co-incidence that Anzac Day new memberships jumped from five last year to 180 this year, and approximately 700 new memberships were recorded within the first fortnight.

As lead interior designer and project manager of the Tradies project, the experience provided the opportunity to collaborate with a range of stakeholders from the base build architect, builders, suppliers, artists and of course the client and our graphics department to bring the concept to fruition. Enjoying a coffee in Gymea Cafe on completion and watching newcomers walk into the foyer and literally say ‘wow,’ was priceless. General Manager, Tim McAleer was also over the moon, given customer reaction was perfectly aligned to his planned campaign ‘Wow, look at us now.’

Our work on a further major project at Tradies is nearing completion- the refurbishment of a bar and entertainment area on first floor. Here is a short outline of the Tradies design principles.