Branded product bars are always going to be in line for a critical beat ’em up. Part of the problem stems from what happens to a space when you marry the clunky trappings of a brand with a sophisticated interior scheme, and this becomes all too evident in the recently redesigned Absolut Ice Bar, located on London’s Heddon Street. Resculpted by ice artists Julia Adzuki and Mark Szulgit using the new Absolut vodka flavour drink Apeach as their inspiration, the interior is, at times, shamelessly self-promotional, with bottles of the stuff inlaid into walls, and a gargantuan ice banner looming large over the bar. Far more interesting is the ice artwork itself, despite the rather tired 1990s genre. Phantom swathes and flowering patterns create a simple, elegant opera of forms that can be seen in each stacked-up ice block. Plants, most likely swept up from the bed of the Torne river in north Sweden, where the ice is imported from, lie delicately suspended in tables. Look really closely and you’ll see piles of snow slowly gathering in corners, as the bar wears down from overuse. What a pity these magical, surreal touches are lost amid the Absolut brand. Absolut Ice Bar, 31-33 Heddon Street, London W1.
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