236 Fulham Road, London SW6
by Design House
The Fine Line on Fulham Road (owned by Fuller, Smith & Turner) won the Time Out/Perrier bar of the year award. Design House’s concept was project managed, as well as implemented, by the client.
Design House chairman Tim May says of the design: ‘It is female friendly but not in a knee-jerk kind of way. It’s very much about the women being the social “gatekeepers” and feeling in control. The most important thing is that the furniture allows people to create defensible spaces within the pub, but instead of having booths and rigidly designed sub-spaces, people can use the furniture in ways to create their own corrals. In a lot of pubs the lighting is very unsophisticated. In the Fine Line a lot of it is indirect and very flattering, and the modulation of light means that different parts of the room have different moods, creating invisible walls.
‘Most of the finishes are quite blonde, no surprise there, and it’s the combination of the lighting and blonde finishes that creates something which is warm in a welcoming sense but quite cool and non-demonstrative. It’s the customers who are the stars. A lot of stylish places are monuments to design and the customer is almost diminished by the experience. In the Fine Line there aren’t massive design features, but there’s a great ambience because its a place where people want to be.
‘There is no “mein host” – the service is very focused on the customer. Proud as we are of our pub heritage there are some pretty barbaric aspects to it.
‘What we were trying to do with Fine Line is unstitch all that barbarism and replace it with an emphasis on being customer-friendly. It’s a bit posey, but not that posey because it’s not about singles but groups, and groups feel very safe there, and safety is incredibly important. It’s a feeling of ownership.’