“I saw it as a hotel bar in space – you never know if it is going backwards or forwards in time – a little group of people going on a journey together” Bob Barton, designer and director of the Golden Age Cinema and Bar.
Over a series of cold winter Tuesday nights a group of friends and I met in the bar of the Golden Age cinema before seeing The Godfather films, with ticket prices the same as when the original movies opened ($4 for the first one and Part 2, $16 for Part 3). Approaching Paramount House, there’d be a golden light spilling onto the pavement from the neon sign & I’d know it would be cosy and comfortable inside. The bar staff would bring down a luscious burger from The Nighthawk Diner van parked outside and there’d be a warming glass of house red wine.
I met with Bob Barton, the designer, and spoke with him about the path he has taken, from starting with an architecture scholarship in Mexico, working in illustration and landscape architecture, creating The Commons Local Eating House, and now running the Golden Age Cinema and bar. As he puts it – he likes to create worlds.
The Golden Age is located in the old Paramount Pictures Art Deco building in Surry Hills and the cinema was their actual screening room. Now reborn as Paramount House, the farsighted owner envisaged the building as a vertical laneway, with the different creatives cross pollinating ideas.
It’s interesting to hear Bob talk of the bar starting off as an awkward rhomboidal space – the present proportions feel so right. His design process is organic; he’s never been into designing on the computer, using it for documentation only. Instead he built the room our of paper, and also taped it up on the ground. He’s obsessive about dimensions, down to the millimetre. The space between the booths is designed so that spontaneous conversations can strike up…
There’s an intimacy to the room that is unusual in Sydney and Bob himself is aware of it. “The scale is very human” he says “I think when you bring down the scale of things it takes away some of the loneliness you can feel in a big house or a cinema. When people walk into this space I want them to feel like they are out in life”