In Arts + Entertainment

Inside The Birdcage: Melbourne Cup’s Lexus Design Pavilion

Guests lucky enough to experience ‘the race that stops the nation’ within the world-famous Birdcage are certain to be stopped in their tracks. Earlier this year when luxury lifestyle brand Lexus was announced at the newest five-year principal partner of the Victorian Racing Club and naming rights sponsor of the Melbourne Cup, expectations were raised.

So what can guests expect this year? Guided by the concept of ‘Utopia,’ a collective of Australian artisans have come together to create exactly that. The Lexus Design Pavilion will take pole position within the world-famous Birdcage at Flemington Racecourse, the pavilion will combine fine design, fine dining and top-notch hospitality across Derby, Cup, Oaks and Stakes Day.

From the moment guests arrive, they’ll be transported to the track via luxury vehicle, bringing them to the sleek black three-story pavilion structure. The minimalistic exterior is certainly understated compared to what waits inside. It’s also here that the new Lexus UX, a soon-to-be-released compact SUV will be displayed for the first time in Australia, prior to its retail release in late November.

melbourne cup The structure is an evolution of visionary Joost Bakker’s ‘Futurecave’, and bursting with natural light in ‘The Gallery’ of Level One. Here the Lexus’ LF-1 Limitless will be showcased alongside a 2.5 by 2.5 metre horse sculpture created by internationally renowned artist Anna-Wili Highfield celebrating the amalgamation of horse racing and automotive.

Greeted by a grand staircase, guests can ascend to an expansive balcony oasis overlooking the track and providing enviable views of not just the track but of an impeccably manicured landscape of Japanese natives by Australian landscape architect Jack Merlo.

Featured inside the pavilion are floral design pieces by Cecilia Fox which draw focus and attention to the natural design detail of the blooms through oversized magnification glass pieces suspended from the ceiling. Bespoke lighting and furniture pieces were created by Melbourne-based designers Volker Haug Studio and Grazia & Co, including two moulded ombre coloured concrete dining tables acting as a focal point of the Level Three dining room by Studio Twocan.

With fine dining a firm focus, guests will be in for a treat as a World’s 50 Best Restaurants Chef and Lexus culinary Ambassador Ben Shewry of Melbourne’s Attica at the helm. Shewry will continue his legacy of boundary-pushing dishes including a ‘Black Ant Lamington’ dessert of ice cream and black Australian ants with coconut, paired with chocolate grown and handmade in the Queensland Daintree Forest.

On Level One, progressive new Melbourne restaurant Future Future is set to serve guests reimagined Japanese favourites including a Katsu-sando and ice-cream mochi. They’ll also be a sparkling ice tea bar that faces outward for passers-by in the Birdcage enclosure.

Japanese inspiration will carry through to Level Two as celebrated Australian chef Neil Perry has designed a more casual fare for guests including dishes such as spanner crab with wasabi tartlet, Hiramasa kingfish, sesame and togarashi on nori crisp and for later in the day, when a hearty snack is in order, they’ll be signature dishes from Perry’s The Burger Project including cheeseburger and fries with chipotle salt and mayonnaise.

Above on Level Three will be the largest ever seated dining room within a Birdcage pavilion, holding up to 76 guests for a four-course meal, directed by Chef Shaun Quade of Lume.

“The 2018 Lexus Design Pavilion will welcome guests to experience an unprecedented level of excellence across every aspect – from design to culinary. Our new pole position within the Birdcage celebrates the Lexus Melbourne Cup as the fourth ever principal partner of the Victoria Racing Club in its 157-year history. It reaffirms our pledge to progressive luxury and amazing experiences,’ says Lexus Australia chief executive Scott Thompson.

Throughout the day, guests can also enjoy further pampering down to the smallest detail including a powder room and touch-up bar by MECCA Cosmetica, personalised race books by The Letterettes and photography by esteemed Australian photographer Lauren Bamford. And with celebrity guests aplenty on the day including Derby Day special guest

Elle Macpherson as well as racing royalty Emma Freedman and Kate Waterhouse, Rugby World Cup winning captain John Eales, media personality Megan Gale and two-time NRL premiership-winning player Anthony Minichiello making appearances, it’ll certain continue to be the place to be.


Published 30 October, 2018