The State Theatre

Conservation and Interior Design: Jonathan Bryant, Urbis
The State Theatre is Sydney’s most iconic historic venue for theatre and music. This heritage-listed theatre was opened in 1929, and retains the opulent interiors of its original state, combining elaborate gothic, neoclassical and baroque design.

The Theatre was the scene of one of the great conservation battles in the early 1970s, at a time when much of historic Sydney was being demolished for commercial redevelopment. Its retention and protection under the NSW Heritage Act reflect the widespread community esteem of this incredible theatre.
The State Theatre custom project futuristic room

The Journey

In 2015, Jonathan Bryant of Urbis embarked upon the sensitive reconstruction of the Art Deco interior of the Futurist Room at Sydney's State Theatre. The first stage involved the conservation of the unique murals which was carried out by International Conservation Services. The second stage focused on the accurate reconstruction of the room's Art Deco style carpet.

In 2017, more reconstruction work was carried out, this time for the lavish Butterfly Room with its Louis XIV furniture and butterfly shaped lamps. The aim was once again to restore the original murals and recreate the delicate butterfly patterned carpet.
The major challenge for both rooms was to piece together the designs of these unique windows into the past, armed only with the original black and white photographs of the rooms taken at the opening and descriptions from news articles.

“Given the historic importance of the Character Rooms and the challenge of faithfully recreating their unique carpets, I didn't hesitate in approaching Designer Rugs to work with us. My relationship with Designer Rugs goes back almost twenty years and there was no room for compromise on a project of such historic importance.”

The State Theatre butterfly room overhead of rug
This is truly a museum quality carpet reconstruction and I couldn't be more satisfied with the exceptional result.
Jonathan Bryant, Urbis
The State Theatre custom project butterfly room

The Solution

The commissions were complex. We had to carry out a faithful historical reconstruction, and we also had to ensure that the new carpet could withstand the wear and tear that a theatre with a capacity of over two thousand patrons could withstand.

Conservationists working painstakingly on the murals revealed the original and true colours of the rooms, which provided the Designer Rugs team a colour palette that a black and white photo simply could not. However the reference photos were heavily drawn upon for cues on placement, pattern and scale, especially in the whimsical positioning of the butterflies in the Butterfly Room.

The rugs were all hand tufted in 100% New Zealand wool, known for its superior durability in high traffic conditions, its natural resistance to staining and its plush and luxurious feel underfoot.

We worked closely with Jonathan and the State Theatre to develop truly unique carpets that accurately reconstruct the originals and effectively tie the unique décor of these rooms together.

The Result

When you visit these incredible rooms and walk on the plush carpet underfoot, you are truly transported back in time – to the jazz age, Art Deco styling of the Futurist Room, or the feminine romantic magic of the Butterfly Room.

“Working with the Designer Rugs team was an excellent experience. Their professionalism and high standards were fundamental to the successful completion of this extraordinary conservation project. This is truly a museum quality carpet reconstruction and I couldn't be more satisfied with the exceptional result.”

The State Theatre Butterfly room with rug and furniture

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