Richard Neat seemed to be bucking the trend when he went big for his new bar/ brasserie venture in London’s Oxo Tower Wharf, which opened in May. Kiran Curtis Architects designed the space along with Neat’s wife, Sophie.
Clearly big is not considered beautiful these days, as one of the architect’s first tasks was to break up the space into more intimate surroundings with organic, flowing shapes and curves. The venue has prime river views so, ‘Guiding the design was the desire to show off this theatre of boats going up and down the river,’ says Curtis.
However, the river doesn’t take all the glory, as the glass-and-stainless steel, flower-shaped, island bar is as much of a draw in itself. It is lit from within so that it glows like a beacon through the stainless steel mesh. Curtis designed the lighting scheme which uses twinkling, capsule lamps in the ceiling and concealed cove lighting to wash the tangerine-coloured perimeter walls. These provide a contrasting backdrop to the bespoke furniture in lilac leather. ‘It sounds like a bold colour scheme, but it is calm, warm and tactile at the same time,’ says Curtis.
An underlit glass slab also tops the luxurious private bar, but the bar counter is made up of concentric rings of polished brass that diminish towards the floor. The lighting from within the bar flows out and over the gaps between the rings. Above, there is an inverted dome of hanging brass tubes with Perspex plugs that catch the light and create dots of concentrated light above the bar. ‘Brass is a very traditional material, but we’ve used it in a contemporary way to create a real visual centrepiece,’ says Curtis.
The private bar is more opulent than the main bar. But the detailing is still minimal, with grey-green walls and leather, suede and upholstered aubergine-coloured chairs. Lighting is provided by a mix of spotlights in the ceiling, and recessed uplights wash the walls and columns to create an ambient atmosphere.