26 Jul 2019 • Lauren Grace Morris
Inspired by The Nanny, this Sydney restaurant does 90s nostalgia – sans gimmicks
Before the recognition sets in, C.C. Babcoq, a new rotisserie hotspot in Sydney’s Cronulla suburb, simply seems like a perfectly with-the-times, Insta-friendly hospitality space. But then the pun does: the restaurant is named after the fictional C.C. Babcock, Fran Fine’s ruthlessly self-centred, blonde-bobbed arch nemesis on 90s TV sitcom The Nanny. Designed by local studio Tom Mark Henry, the ‘sassy interiors’ were inspired by Babcock herself and made to fit in with the vibe of the area’s foodie scene.
The restaurant targets fan of the show, but the interiors smartly don’t exclude those who don’t know – or like – it. There are plenty of hospitality destinations around the world based off of popular television shows through the ages; one’s a bar dedicated to Seinfeld’s George Costanza in Melbourne, to name another on the continent for example. And while this kind of 90s nostalgia sells – look to this recent IKEA campaign – it can be difficult to complete such projects without defaulting to gimmicks and referential décor to create a shortcut there.
In light of this, it’s important to note that the terrazzo-floored space, located in an art-deco building, is an interpretation of, not a tribute to, Babcock’s character. The Tom Mark Henry team studied stills of Lauren Lane’s performance, then ‘abstracted her character, and explored how [they] could bring that out in the interior.’ Arguably the most compelling result of that process is a vibrant 4-m-high mural, called Rockpool, that the studio collaborated on with Lymesmith, an Australian design practice.
Although the name is intended to get a giggle out of its visitors, C.C. Babcoq’s interiors can surely be a guidepost for other designers that seek to similarly derivate cues from pop culture in their projects, but don’t know how to do so in a more finely distilled way.
C.C. Babcoq was submitted to the spatial design competition of the year – Frame Awards 2020. Like the project? Keep your eye out on its progress. Think you can compete? Submit your best work here.