05 Aug Indesign Magazine Issue 66 (By Nicky Lobos, Editor)
Going to the Dark Side
Bodhi & Ride by Hachem Architects
Physical exercise is good for the body. Meditation is good for the mind. Art, you could argue, is good for the soul. Bodhi & Ride founder and owner, Michaela Fellner explains: “My way to zone out is to either sort out my stuff on a mat or cushion, or sweat it out in a cycle studio. I couldn’t decide which one was better. I think I needed both,” she laughs.
When Fellner decided to open a studio that integrated these three forms under the one roof, she knew she had to seek out a creative collaborator that was as unique as her vision. She found him via a nightclub of all places. The sense of escape, release and sensory immersion in the sophisticated Bond venue in Melbourne, designed by Fady Hachem of Hachem, made an impression.
Together they walked through the site Fellner had secured for the studio – formerly an art gallery – and the vision began to take shape. “It’s rare for somebody to do something out of the box,” Hachem remarks, but this tri-focused project with Fellner at the helm was just that. Undergoing rigorous research, which included taking part in several yoga and cycling classes, the Hachem team first developed the branding, including the business name.
‘Bodhi’ represents the introspective, gentle, yin aspect of wellness, while ‘Ride’ refers to the more extroverted, energetic yang qualities. From these two opposing forces came the balance that inspired the interior design.
The shell of the two-level white gallery building was left intact, with exposed timber beams and generous ceiling heights. “The structure is quite beautiful,” Hachem remarks. “The last thing we wanted to do was ruin it – we wanted to improve it.” On the ground level a ‘ride chamber’ and ‘unplug pod’ are inserted behind the reception area, freestanding feature artworks in the building shell. These curvaceous forms are accentuated by gauzy curtains which wrap the interior of the building shell, and by custom suspended lighting which ripples around the inserted pods. There is not a straight line in sight – cardboard tubes and other circular elements feature in the joinery, rugs and custom furniture. The gently amorphous theme encourages a feeling of safety, and a flowing circulation of both bodies and energy.
The nightclub references are clear in the ride chamber – you can “go dark” in here, as Fellner describes it. In this curved space, bikes are nestled in close to one another, much like a crowded dancefloor. Fifty different lighting settings (including strobe) and DJ-mixed soundtracks create an energetic (and sweaty) experience where riders (who are provided with cycle shoes to clip into the frames) can find an anonymous release in the near-dark chamber. Incredibly, thanks to acoustic consideration, the music can thump through the speakers in here while a meditation practice takes place in the adjacent pod.
This cocoon-like meditation space is simple and light. Wary of intimidating newcomers to the practice with heavy philosophy or pseudo-religious icons, cushions are the only adornment. “I wanted to bring meditation to life in a really modern, urban, contemporary way,” Fellner says.
The upper level is home to the ‘yoga loft’, with cork flooring and infrared heating creating a simple and warm floating space for mindful movement. A blank canvas covers the length of one wall, a reference to the building’s artistic past. Bathrooms are also located up here, with generous rainfall showerheads extending the luxurious experience. The body, mind and soul are all nourished in this carefully constructed space, a sensual exploration of wellness.