64 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 6DT
by Paul Daly
The Elbow Room concept is described by Paul Daly, designer and a partner in the business, as a ‘pool lounge’, as opposed to the pool halls traditionally found in places like King’s Cross.
Everything was designed by Daly, including the signage and furniture. The first was opened in west London, while the second opened in Leeds during the World Cup last year and has more of a synthesised feel. It is bigger, doubling as a club venue for up to 600 people. The third Elbow Room in Islington is planned to open early next year.
Daly, who trained as a sculptor before turning to design, describes the genesis of the project and how it turned out: ‘Of course I’d played a lot of pool in my life, so I knew the product very well, and I knew it was pertinent taking a downmarket product and hip-ifying it.
‘I went in there and said I’m going to make this thing sexy, and I think I hit it – the whole viewing through the steel wall idea, being able to look at others without them looking [back], being able to ask somebody to play a game, having a reason to talk to them. That is the big thing with us, how am I going to talk to that girl, how am I going to talk to that guy. The whole thing is incredibly tactile.
‘Girls don’t necessarily get a deep urge to play pool in the same way a geezer would. I’ve been at the bar and girls have told me: “I just come down here because he likes to play pool and I sit at the bar”…The whole thing about sitting at the bar if you’re a single person is a big thing in New York. If you go to a bar and you have a few drinks you can suddenly feel very lonely. You brief your staff, you make sure that person has been talked to a lot. You don’t make anyone look like a plonker. The one in Islington is going to be slicker. The groovy analogy is champagne and hamburgers – two feet in the street, but it has a 4am licence so people will be having champagne buckets.’