LoFi relaunches with brash splash of colour

Paddy Coughlan, Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett at LoFi by Romance was Born

LoFi has been closed for just one weekend of trade, but when it reopens and relaunches tonight — as LoFi by Romance was Born — you’ll notice a marked transformation on the inside.

“This is the death of exposed brick — I’m calling it right now,” said Riversdale Group’s CEO Paddy Coughlan.

He’s referring to the more is more design of the venue by Sydney-based fashion designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, known as Romance was Born.

“We opened LoFi four years ago, and it was just time for a bit of a refresh and a relaunch,” said Coughlan.  “We’ve done collaborations with musos, and artists, and hadn’t done anything with any fashion people.”


The key thing that Coughlan was after was a big big break with the past.

“We wanted a big change-up,” he said. “We didn’t want to muck around at the edges. And the look, four years ago we did the usual thing that Sydney bars do, the stripped back, exposed brick — because it’s cheap to do and quick. So four years later, we wanted to do something really, really different.”

“It’s clean, but pyschedelic, colourful and fun — kind of poppy,” said Plunkett of their design, which she hopes will create the kind of space in which “people would spend more time, and take in the environment.”

Sales hopes that their work helps the bar to be a space that is easy for people when they arrive.

“Me and Anna were thinking that around this area, there’s no easy bars — they’re either late night dive bars or really annoying wine bars or something — just somewhere to go and have a drink,” said Sales. “We just wanted it to be a nice bar, that you can come to at any time, and that it’s not pretentious, and it’s super easy.

“Sydney is so hard as it is — our recreational spaces should be a bit easier,” he said.

The duo has drawn on their experience in putting on fashion shows for their brand to bring the project to life.

“When we do our shows we do these overly intense environments, we build these big sets and put in a lot of effort,” said Sales. “It’s kind of something we kind of do, but it’s always for 20 minutes, it’s not for two years or something like that. It’s definitely the first time we’ve done something more permanent.”

Coughlan sees the collaboration as heralding a new — quite possibly more colourful — way of handling venue design, one that gives the fitout of the bar as much emphasis as is given to drinks and service.

“The small bar thing — and rightly so — is predominantly about the drink,” he said. “It’s drinks, drinks, drinks. To me, the aesthetics should have equal billing with the drinks. And I know why it’s happened, it’s through budget constraints, you get these young guys opening small bars — like I used to be — and you don’t have any money to spend on fit-out. So you do that as best you can and you focus on the quality of drinks and the quality of service.

“You still need to do that the best you can, but to me I think it’s time now that drinks, music and aesthetics get equal billing.”

LoFi by Romance was Born opens launches tonight, at 2/283 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst.


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