How I Melbourne: Iva Foschia

Published on 11 April 2021

Photo: Architect Iva Foschia

Eyeballing Clerehan houses, admiring fine dining rooms and taking a trip back in time at Mediterraean wholesalers with a leading Melbourne architect.

Iva Foschia is the founder and lead architect at IF Architecture. After launching IF Architecture in 2010, she has attracted major projects from a broad range of clients of note, not least in hospitality. Her singular sensibility is on show at the likes of Attica, Marion, Cutler & Co, Etta and, more recently, the Prince Dining Room, Prince Public Bar and Little Prince Wine

IF Architecture has found its rhythm making spaces warm, tactile, and approachable, says Foschia, whether in hospitality, retail or corporate settings. "We approach each project with a rigorous process of client immersion, finding out what makes their particular business unique and ensuring that the touchpoints within each project make a personal, inviting connection."

"I’m still stimulated and excited by the design process. It always begins and ends in a new place."

In the mornings you’ll find me walking through Fawkner Park on my way to New Order for a coffee and then a walk back through the streets of South Yarra, dreaming about winning the lottery and being able to buy either the Clerehan house on Walsh Street (number 96) or the Clerehan-designed Fenner House on Domain Road (number 228).

My local is Allpress Espresso. It’s close to the office but it’s also a green oasis in the heart of Collingwood. The coffee is consistently excellent and the mixed plate, a build-your-own type of adventure with avocado, goat’s curd, tomato, toast and (most importantly) a pickle, making for the best everyday lunch. 

My defining food moment in Melbourne was when I had my first elevated dining experience. It was at the old Vue de Monde in Normanby Chambers. I was a graduate working at Elenberg Fraser (who designed the space) and the whole office was taken to the restaurant for lunch. It was a real 'pinch-me' moment, having an incredible food experience in a place I had a small role in creating.

The best-looking dining rooms in Melbourne are Allan Powell’s Cafe Di Stasio, Kerstin Thompson's Sunda, Six Degrees’ Arlechin (not technically a dining room but they do serve food!), I also love the Florentino – I’m not sure who designed it, but it’s classically old school and reminds me of being in Italy. 

I know I’m in Melbourne when I cross the Bolte Bridge and see the beautiful skyline unfold in front of my eyes. 

The best new thing I’ve found is Thai Deli on Clarendon Street in South Melbourne; I’m still talking about the food two days later. The proprietors are a husband and wife team and I love that occasionally their little children are there, playing in the front of house area. It feels more like you’re getting delicious home-cooked meal rather than a commercial transaction.

When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I form a menu around recipes from one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s books and then go to either Prahran or South Melbourne Market, buy a hundred ingredients and then spend two days preparing it. 

When I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to take them on a walking tour through city laneways. Past and/or through the Arts Precinct across the Princes Bridge and then the whole city is there to be explored, completely bypassing Swanston Street. Stopping along the way of course and finishing at the City Wine Shop. They always comment on how alive and dynamic Melbourne is (which is perfect because that’s the intention).

There’s no better value in Melbourne than the country loaf from Baker Bleu, perfect on its own, peak perfection with cheese, sublime with butter and honey.

My favourite place to stock up on supplies is Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Road in Brunswick. It connects me to my Italian heritage, gives me a reason to speak the language and mostly it reminds me of school holidays, going there with my mum and snacking on pasta dura, sometimes still warm on the way home in the car. Oh, and did I mention the most amazing range of imported Italian products?

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be Melbournians getting back to restaurants, bars and cafés as much as they can, and not relying on home-delivery services like we had to in 2020 to support the industry. The amount of waste from all the packaging is really concerning and for the most part now in 2021 it’s unnecessary. Plus, the hospitality industry is a massive employer, including of businesses like IF Architecture, so let's keep the wheels turning. 

But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the constant change.



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