Arts Centre

Introducing Protagonist Café
Sitting beneath the spire and alongside popular St Kilda Road, the newest member of the Arts Centre Melbourne community boasts groundbreaking architecture from Cumulus Studio

‘To enhance the creativity of Melbourne.’ So reads one of the major strategic goals of Arts Centre Melbourne. And with that in mind, Cumulus Architects were worthy winners of the 2018 Arts Centre Melbourne competition to design a new café to take pride of place in the forecourt. Highly controlled by Heritage Victoria, the setting demanded a ‘light footprint’ design, whilst also making a creative statement in its own right.


Defined by a striking architectural mesh – akin to a bronze curtain — it is lifted by day and lowered by night, providing valuable flexibility as it transitions from café by day to cocktail bar by night.

The visual identity, developed specifically by Assembly to integrate with the architectural experience and Arts Centre Melbourne, is a celebration of performance. The architectural mesh acts as the ideal canvas for dazzling digital artwork projected after dark. Striking the balance between artistic display and promotion, bespoke projections commissioned by Assembly showcase a range of performers — including ballerinas, musicians and entertainers, representing resident companies such as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and The Australian Ballet, as well as touring artists.


Still frames taken from the animation form the basis of the visual identity.

Much like the name suggests, Protagonist plays a lead role in creating memorable first impressions for new and returning visitors alike. Not ones to shy away from a challenge, Assembly managed a host of production items to ensure everything was in tip-top shape for opening night. Engineered 3D aluminium signage, custom packaging, aprons and tasting cards ensured a cohesively branded customer experience, befitting the contemporary nature of the space.

Work completed
Creative strategy, visual identity, digital art, animation, packaging, copywriting, signage