New York-based interior architect Sarah A Abdallah, owner of Functional Creative Design, decodes the latest design trends in bars and cocktail lounges
Bars and restaurants are increasingly focused on creating innovative with aesthetically pleasing designs that draw the eye – and the crowds. Places that capture the imagination and soothe the soul not only turn a profit, but also become destinations in their own right.
Guests want an experience that transports them to another place for a warm, personal dining experience. At the Guido Costantino-designed Italian restaurant Buca Yorkville, in Toronto, light sculptures unite with neutral brick walls to create an intimate space that allows diners to focus on the food and the company. Another way to create an intimate dining experience is Studio Munge's impressive design for Leuca restaurant in Brooklyn's The William Vale Hotel, in New York, which features modern wooden details that wrap from ceiling to wall to create a warm cocoon.
Expect to see more textures, mixing fabrics and other materials for contrast
Velvet is back. From inviting sofas and banquettes to extra-plush dining chairs, the warm and comforting touch of velvet is sought after by bars and nightclubs around the world. This trend is far from over: expect to see more textures, mixing fabrics and other materials for contrast and a good balance of tactile play. There is a psychology to creating a place that requires the right mixture of standout architectural elements and soft custom furnishings.
Throughout the four floors of The VNYL, a nightlife destination in Manhattan, NYC bespoke firm Functional Creative Design combines plush velvets with fluted walnut wall details – evoking the '70s with a sophisticated textural twist – a decidedly modern Calacatta-marble bar top and custom-made bar stools in brass and leather.
Minimalism is on the rise in bars and restaurants. Granger & Co, a modern Australian restaurant in London's King's Cross, employs wood ceilings, pink stone table tops with brushed gold details and minimal but intelligent use of colour and art to set a high standard for less-is-more design. The glass facade introduces bright natural light, allowing light fixtures to remain simple, minimal and elegant.
Research says that living plants provide a soothing psychological effect. Positive effects of plants include reduced stress and improved concentration. Leaves give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, helping eliminate harmful toxins and naturally cleaning the air. As research continues into the benefits of being surrounded by plants, more and more bars and restaurants are opting for floor-to-ceiling foliage.
With interiors by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, the Pink Mamma restaurant, in Paris, offers a going-green interior with vines, potted plants and trees, and a few flowering plants. Coupled with natural lighting, the greenery creates an open, inviting destination that puts customers at ease.
In Miami's Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar, at the Four Seasons' Surf Club, Paris-based interior designer Joseph Dirand surrounded the seating areas with tall tropical plants and palm trees, creating an airy environment, and blissful customers.
The best trend is no trend. After a decade of short-term design fads, many bars and lounges are moving towards classic, timeless interiors that honour the history of the surrounding area. Richard Francis-Jones, of Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp architects, collaborated with A+ Design Group and Dreamtime Australia
Design on the Champagne Bar at the new Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. An elaborate mirrored installation opposite a wall of windows showcases beautiful Darling Harbour and the CBD. The mirrored wall reflects and deconstructs the view, reinterpreting light and patterns from the harbour and evolving throughout the day.
Decorative wall coverings are papering new bars and restaurants everywhere, introducing pattern and variety into hospitality. For The VNYL in New York, Functional Creative Design specified several local handmade wall coverings throughout the property. The wallpapers were made in Brooklyn by Flavor Paper, known for its large format, handcrafted silk screening.
Technology drives innovation and new ways of interacting, and its strong influence is likely to continue. The LAB at Rockwell Group is an innovator in merging design and technology. It created an immersive multi-sensory journey of the senses at Asian restaurant and nightclub Tao Downtown, in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. Using 3D mapping technology paired with animation, LAB designed Tao right down to the visuals for the Quan Yin Buddha that sits front and centre in the restaurant, using lighting technology to create effects such as growing moss and f lowing waterfalls, and a memorable atmosphere for guests.
Technology is already available that allows guests to choose specific options for their dining experience. Remote controls and compatible apps allow guests to control certain light bulbs, for example, switching them on or off, or changing the colour and light intensity for a more personalised ambience.