Today’s coolest restaurants break down design into showcases for streamlined style that’s a visual palate cleanse.
Case in point: Absinthesalon Melbourne. As the offer revolves around the notorious (but legal, albeit with restrictions in many countries) beverage, Grant Amon Architects and interior designer Fabric Interior Exterior rethought the space flow around the experience of drinking it.
Grant Amon, Grant Amon Architects. Photo: Brett Goldstein
Both Amon and Fabric's interior architect Rebecca Lombardo wanted to move away from a typical bar structure. Instead, guests are welcomed into the venue with a lush display of various absinthes in what Lombardo calls a reverse bar, with glasses stored in a smaller display further into the venue.
So much for making the design “work.” Both teams also wanted to bring artiness and edge to the look of the space, without losing an industrial aura So, they turned to 2D focal points, such as dancing skeleton images on polished concrete floor and slightly trippy murals on the walls and floors to add interest, and focused on the ceiling as the canvas for playing with texture in the form of hundreds of single flower-shaped lights.
Rebecca Lombardo and Vince Marino, Fabric Interior Exterior. Photo: Courtesy of Fabric Interior Exterior
Projects like this aren’t just novelty acts. Instead, they are bellwethers for a new kind of storytelling that’s more short story than epic. Sure, the art traces absinthe’s history, but beyond those murals, Lombardo keeps the emphasis exactly where she wants it.
“Inside, the lighting is designed to have important focal features. The tables, art pieces and bar are clearly lit, leaving the remaining spaces shrouded in theatrical shadow,” she says. “This allows a feeling of mystique to be maintained while still letting customers read their menus,” she says.
Leave that green fairy out of it, already. Business might not be “usual,” but it’s still business. Sorry, designers—even flights of fancy need a GPS.
SHIZUKU PROJECT PARTICIPANTS
CLIENT: Chef Naoko Restaurant
DESIGN FIRM: Kengo Kuma and Associates: Kengo Kuma, principal in charge; Balazs Bognar, project architect; Aigerim Syzdykova and Adrian Yau, design team
ARCHITECT OF RECORD: Lorraine Guthrie Architect
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Kems Woodworks
DESIGN CONSULTANTS: Sadafumi Uchiyama (landscape)
SCREENS: Shikada Sangyo Inc.
TATAMI PLATFORM: Time & Style Inc.
BELLAVISTA DEL JARDÍN DEL NORTE PROJECT PARTICIPANTS
CLIENT: Bellavista Del Jardín Del Norte
DESIGN FIRM: El Equipo Creativo: Oliver Franz Schmidt, Natali Canas del Pozo and Lucas Echeveste Lacy, partners; Narcís Font, Anna Martínez Salom, Blanca Lora-Tamayo, Mauricio García, Néstor Veloso and Cristòfol Tauler, project team
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: 4RETAIL
DESIGN CONSULTANTS: Audioscan (A/V); BMLD (lighting); Chicken Box (graphics); David M. Buisán (wall illustrations)
PROJECT MANAGER: S4E, Solutions for Engineering
FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS: BOSSVI
WOODWORK: 4RETAIL; Fustería Ollé
ABSINTHESALON MELBOURNE PROJECT PARTICIPANTS
DESIGN FIRM: Grant Amon Architects: Grant Amon, director and project architect; Stephen Herbst, architect; Fabric Interior Exterior: Rebecca Lombardo, interior architect; Vince Marino, design and construction
ARCHITECT: Grant Amon Architects
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Fabric Interior Exterior
ART: Arterior Australia
CEILINGS: Floral by Design
FIXTURES: Hayes Cabinets; Ottoman Imports
FURNITURE: B Seated
LIGHTING: Bespoke Light; Pretty Polly Designs
TANKS: IBC Tanks & Pallets
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