There’s no denying The Newport holds a very special place in people’s hearts – and none more so than the community that calls it their local. So it made sense for the creative team behind the build to assemble a group of Northern Beaches natives to help create the next chapter of the iconic venue. “There is a real sense of pride and ownership from the locals, so it was an obvious choice to get local artisans to help us create the new Newport,” says The Newport’s stylist Amanda Talbot. “It’s been really fantastic to get their local knowledge, too. Getting their input has helped the design team map put some of the choices we’ve made.”
After struggling to find any furniture to suit their needs, Avalon couple Simon and Kate decided to start making their own. Five years later, the couple run The Wood Room, a small business that has just completed its largest ever order – over 150 pieces for The Newport.
I’d heard Justin [Hemmes] had bought The Newport, so one night I sent him an Instagram picture and told him a little about our work. Not surprisingly, I didn’t hear back. But about five weeks later I got a call from the man himself asking if we’d put in a quote – I nearly fell off my chair! Winning the contract has been the jewel in the crown of our business to date. Kelvin [Ho] and Émilie [Delalande], the architects behind The Newport, ordered around 70 pieces of furniture and then doubled that order when they saw the progress we were making.
How do you describe your style?
I think we design and make beautiful, subtly sophisticated furniture that doesn’t alienate anyone. We love clean lines, and we’ve refined a raw colour palette that we think is inviting without being overpowering. You want your furniture to make a statement, but not all pieces need to be heroes. We make furniture that gets attention for its understated beauty.
You and Kate live on the Northern Beaches, how rewarding has it been to work on a project that will service your own community?
Katie grew up going to The Arms with friends, and my dad would take our family down there for the big seafood platters, so it’s definitely been an amazing feeling. We’re really proud to give back to our community in a way we’re so passionate about, and our friends and families who also have a strong connection to the venue are really proud of us too. Not to mention we’re literally a few minutes away from sneaky Sunday sessions!
The Mural Artist - Desmond Sweeney
His work already adorns walls in The Paddington and Coogee Pavilion, and now mural artist Desmond Sweeney of 8footwalls has turned his paintbrush to The Newport. Charged with telling the story of the local area, the softly-spoken Newport-based artist has incorporated seaplanes, older-style boats, beach-goers and paddle-boarders into his impressive 24-metre mural.
How did you go about telling the story of Newport and this iconic venue?
Newport was big with holiday makers in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, so the colours we’ve chosen – pastels and greys and cool hues – mirror those of old holiday posters from that time. We’ve incorporated different objects and activities that represent the past and also what still happens here, particularly on Pittwater. But mainly I’ve tried to create a sense of calm in the mural. Newport is such a peaceful are to visit; there’s a real serenity here that I’ve tried to mimic and evoke.
Did you have an idea of who The Newport customer was and did that affect your design in any way?
Well, I’ve been coming here for 25 years! Those who used to come to The Arms won’t be alienated, but the rejuvenation will attract several other groups of people who will feel comfortable coming here, too. There will be people who will appreciate the music, others who will come for the food, and lots of young families, including my own. There are playful elements in the mural that will appeal to a lot of people.
What do you love about the local area?
Definitely the serene energy of the place. Also, there are a lot of craftsmen in Newport. The area was originally made up of tradies, fisherman, and holiday makers. And even though that has expanded to include business people and investors, the craftsmen are still here, and it does affect the feel of the neighbourhood in a really positive way.
The Games Maker - David Jarvis
Fourth-generation furniture maker and craftsman David Jarvis of Elo Silo grew up knowing his father, Chris, had built much of the furniture for The Newport Arms. Now, the Mona Vale local is putting his stamp on the venue by crafting vintage gymnasium-inspired pieces for the games area.
Why is this venue so special to you?
I actually grew up with the previous owners of The Newport Arms, the Bayfields. My dad is good mates with them and he made all the furniture for the pub while they owned it. I'm really proud of our connection to the venue, and Dad was really excited when he found out I’d be working on it.
How did this project come about?
Amanda [Talbot] found me through Tim, who is one of the founders of North Journal, a local publication here. It’s cool because there does seem to be a lot of creative people around these parts – artists seem to go hand in hand with beach culture! And no doubt we’ll all be frequenting The Newport quite a bit.
What cool things have you made for the games area?
We’ve done an oversized scrabble board, a winner’s podium, a limbo rail and stand, and a ballet bar. We’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with different elements and we’ve found ourselves thinking outside the box a lot. But it’s great because The Arms was always a family friendly pub, and I know Justin wanted to keep true to that with The Newport.
The Newport is set to open Easter long weekend