The design of Emerson’s Taproom draws upon some unique inspiration – the traditional English pub, the 1950s railway era, and the proud Dunedin origins of its founder. Comprising an open-plan bar and dining area, cellar door, pilot brewery, tasting space, and an outdoor area, the Taproom forms one part of a flagship Emerson’s Brewery on the site of an old railway yard in Dunedin.
Ignite’s specialist retail and hospitality team collaborated closely with Beca, who led the overall building design. All effort was devoted to crafting an authentic hospitality experience.
“From the glazed tiles in the bathrooms that reference the London tube to the woodblock lettered signage of the railway era - every detail has been carefully considered.”
Brass-studded oversized leather armchairs, couches, and booths provide a variety of comfortable seating areas while evoking the feel of an old English pub. These hard-wearing, easy-clean fabrics are practical in their selection, as well as adding a sense of history and solidity to the space. Where possible, the fixtures are predominantly New Zealand-made or sourced.
Bespoke fittings, developed by Unique Creative, help embody the design vision. Booths feature reclaimed timber railway sleepers, while the chandelier is made from tiers of old saw blades and LED lights encased in Emerson’s flagon lightshades.
The bar is located in an altar-like position. It brings together all the various design elements of the Taproom with its re-purposed railway track, brass panelling, and a tiled feature wall. The dark timber counter echoes the solidity and proportions of the railway sleepers used elsewhere in the space.
A test brewery and tasting area celebrates both the Emerson’s brand and the art of craft brewing. A 1,200-litre capacity pilot brewery, positioned at one end of the Taproom, is used by Richard Emerson and his brewing team to develop special editions and test batches. A retractable steel and glazed ‘garage door’ references the brand’s humble beginnings, while full-height glazing ensures patrons can easily watch the brewing process from the comfort of their seats. The starkness of the brew house, with its precision equipment and steel tanks, provides a contrast to the inviting warmth of the hospitality space.