Small but perfectly formed

‘The buzz word is organic future,’ says Paul Daly of the new Soho bar and restaurant he has designed. Lab, which opens next month in a former strip joint on Old Compton Street, will avoid emulating what else is going on in the London bar scene. ‘It has its own look… accessible 21st century,’ adds Daly, founder of Paul Daly Design Studio.

The bar’s founders Richard Hargroves and Douglas Ankrah expect to attract the ‘meeja’ crowd. Cocktails and a fresh juice bar, Dr Juice, will sit alongside Lab’s rustic global cuisine.

Hargroves and Ankrah first came together to set up the London Academy of Bartenders. The organisation, which trains bar staff, will use the venue as a showcase of its training techniques, and allow it to ‘practise what it preaches’, says Ally designer Caroline Messenger.

Ally has created the identity, which may already be familiar, and all the graphics for the project. This includes menus with photography by Fleur Olby, matches, and even the cover for a CD especially put together to be played in Lab.

Ally wanted to avoid references to the word laboratory and a techy style for the graphics, says Messenger. Instead, she started the identity design by looking up the word ‘labial’ in the dictionary, and took her cues from the vibrating noise or buzzing flush made by a flute.

To make the most of Lab’s small space, the lunch tables flip up to become shelves and make more room for evening drinkers – ‘a subtle but ingenious use of space,’ according to Daly.

Paul Daly Design Studio is creating images which will be back-lit to give the place a spacy quality. This futuristic feel is complemented by the textured surfaces, wooden floors upstairs and brown tiles downstairs, ‘adhering to my organic past’, says Daly.

Designer: Paul Daly Design Studio and Ally

Client: Richard Hargroves and Douglas Ankrah

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