Bars

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March 12 2008



Everybody is going crazy about Mumbai's Blue Frog, opened earlier this year. It's a 1,000-square-meter complex that includes a club, restaurant, lounge, sound stage, recording studio and sound lab, all encased within the massive walls of an old warehouse in Mumbai's mill district. The Blue Frog Club interior may remind you of those delirious nights at the end-of-summer Exhibition with its midway games, roller coasters and dizzy-making rides. Or you may suddenly start channeling Queen Amidala, addressing the StarWarsian Senate from her floating pod. Luckily, Blue Frog does its dizzying job in a way that is totally stylish - not a tacky thing or overdone costume in sight. And everyone's table is definitely on level ground, although it does not appear so first.



Designers Chris Lee and Kapil Gupta formerly of Chris Lee Architects and Contemporary Urban, and now of Serie (London and Mumbai) have managed to create a cohesive yet exciting space by stripping the visual cues down to a only a few very strong ones.

The equilibrium-challenging effect is achieved by the clever surround-millwork that uses a circle as its main form. The mahogany-paneled millwork circles each round table, forming circular booths or pods in somewhat varying shapes at various levels, guaranteeing great sightlines for all. Not wanting to compete with the lighting or other embellishments of the stage acts, the interior is dark except for the top surface of the booths.



The glowing back-lit resin surfaces tie the seating area together even when a stage show is on, and make it a bit easier to gain one's bearings in the otherwise dark space. Like seating in a Roman amphitheatre, the pods circle and rise from a stage area that can also double as standing room or dance floor in a club set-up. Acts from India and from around the world are starting to make Blue Frog Mumbai's hottest club. By Tuija Seipell

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January 14 2008




Opened in late fall 2007, Electric Birdcage at Haymarket in the heart of London's West End, has been receiving mixed reviews. One thing is certain, though, it IS getting a reaction from everyone who visits.

Electric Birdcage is a magnificently weird combination of Alice in Wonderland and Russian Aristocrat, dim sum parlor and late-night cocktail bar, sophisticated party venue and silly funhouse.

The owners, brothers Richard and Anthony Traviss, knew where to go for eccentric and totally extravagant interiors: to London's beloved venue designer Shaun Clarkson. His handiwork can be seen, for example, at La Pigalle, Covent Garden's Denim, Play Room, Profile, Power's Acoustic Room, The Bloomsbury Ballroom, Atlantic Bar & Grill and Jerusalem.



Electric Birdcage's surrealistic interior includes a Fibonacci-style patterned floor, tables made of tree roots, gigantic pink hands for chairs, lavish Vegas-style mirrors, imposing black stallions, two snarling black polymer panthers, a carousel bar and iron birdcage chandeliers dangling from a pink ceiling. Even the DJ operates from a birdcage.

Capacity crowd of 300, served by cute staff in retro airline get-up, can order Pan-Asian fare by head chef Somporn Khamsaenphan all day, and stay until 4 am enjoying cocktails by mixologist Chad Shields. You and seven friends can share the signature Electric Birdcage bowl filled with a mix of champagne, Absolut Raspberri peach schnapps, Cointreau, Absolut Citron, strawberry puree, gomme syrup, orange juice, fresh raspberries and blueberries. That should elicit a reaction, if nothing else will. By Tuija Seipell


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July 30 2007




T-O 12 is a new nightclub on Stuttgart's notorious 'party mile,' Theodor Heuss-Strasse. Like the street, the club is also named after the late Theodor Heuss, a fun-loving, dashing man and the first person elected for a full term as the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. Clubbers call the joint either Theo (T O sounds just like Theo in German) or Theo Zwulf (=Theo 12 in German).

To create the three-story club, the owners hired two Stuttgart-based firms: Architecture and communications firm Ippolito Fleiz Group, and graphic designers i-d buero. The result is a sleekly mysterious, pitch-dark space with white furnishings and massive black-and-white murals. The all-black walls, ceilings and floors together with the huge mirrors and tiny light spots produce an effect that is vertigo-inducing and fun. Theo would approve. By Tuija Seipell


 

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June 18 2007



Yes, we all saw Lost In Translation and thought, ‘hang on a minute, if Bill Murray can seduce Scarlett Johansson by singing ‘More Than This’ then maybe we could too!’

Let’s face it, karaoke has always been the butt of bad movies, and its reputation is currently languishing somewhere between Japanese businessmen necking methylated spirit and hen parties ‘cutting loose’.



But recently, it has started to reclaim its cult status from half-tanked brides-to-be, and become a little bit more palatable.  This new karaoke bar has been quietly, or rather, loudly, winning acclaim for its alternative approach to the nation’s favourite pastime.

Rather than the dark booths of your standard karaoke club, this new private members’ sing-along has incorporated young artists to help liven up the interior.  Think Manga cartoons but with a Lichtenstein edge.



Each booth has its own distinctive decor, and every surface has a graphic to reflect the spaces they fill.  Which is a far cry from the matted walls and vinyl floors some bars choose.  And most of all, it’s members only, so there’s no need to worry about being harassed by a woman with oversized fairy wings stuck to her back. By Matt Hussey.

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April 9 2007



A new week, a hot new bar: Melbourne.

Some cities put their drinking holes on bold display. All glass frontage and brazen invitation. Some don't. Melbourne is certainly in the latter camp and, so not surprisingly, its latest bar offering, New Gold Mountain - is a hole-in-the-wall affair found down a cobble-stoned laneway and somewhat reminiscent of a womb. Or the inside of I Dream of Jeannie's bottle.

New Gold Mountain, is brought to us by a team of four locals who've worked in leading bars in Melbourne and London. They've teamed with young Australian architect Cassandra Fahey, who for those who follow such things, designed the controversial house for Australian football sensationalist Sam Newman back in 2000... the one with the two story glass frontage imbedded with Pamela Anderson's face. For this project, Fayey took the old tailor's studio on the outskirts of the city's Chinatown district and created a space that works to a distinct opium den theme. Downstairs speaks of colonial-era Shanghai, with two fireplaces decorated with the Chinese zodiac. Upstairs is the Poppy Room featuring plush pink fabrics suspended from the ceiling. And nana-esque furniture. Pretty and comforting. Just as Jeannie would like it.
 
And the drinks? They specialize in sours. The music? Something described as "nouvelle-vague-Joy Division revisions". Which certainly pegs the clientele into a certain age bracket. A space you might have to track down yourself, but will certainly envelope you once you're in. Sarah W



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February 28 2006



We've seen hot private jets and boutique bars with a VIP edge. Could it be possible that bowling clubs are also becoming chic? We think it might be. Smelly, creaky bowling alleys and their sub-par fast food fare have a long way to go to become even retro, not to mention stylish, but there is hope. Recently, everybody’s been gushing over private bowling club All Star Lanes (pictured above) in London that apparently has managed to lure Madonna herself to its luxury and privacy.



In the Philippines, where bowling is a national sport, SM Bowling Center (pictured abobe & below) recently opened a new alley in the country’s largest mall, Mall of Asia in Manila. Formal blessing rites and introductory tournaments marked the launch of this 34-lane beauty. It is the handywork of the Melbourne Architects EAT who also designed the SM Megamall alley in Manila. Now that we are on a roll, we’d like to find more cool places to bowl. Please let us know if you know where they are. By Tuija Seipell






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January 27 2006



Illuminated dance floors
are nothing new. In the seventies they where all the rage, the problem was that dancers flared hot pants would cover the floor panels and kill the effect. Now, flares or not, the illuminated dance floor is back, this time in LED form. Using the latest in pressure sensitive LED technology, these panels are designed to  interact with club goers moves as well as D.J's sets. Special plug ins can be downloaded into the D.Js computer equipment allowing an entire set to be pre programmed where the music and lights work together. The panels are not restricted to work only on dance floors and can be fitted to walls, bar tops and Lionel Ritchie's favorite place to dance, ceilings. by Bill T

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