Defining Design Trends

Style and Comfort Lead to Success

Bars are welcoming spaces to relax and unwind with friends, or dance the night away. How can bar owners provide the comfort and style patrons are looking for, while best optimizing the space?

Winners of the recent Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, a yearly international competition that recognizes the global architecture and design of food spaces, have exactly the right mix. Westlight, a bar in Brooklyn, New York, designed by Studio Munge, a multidisciplinary design firm in Toronto, was honoured with the Best Overall Bar award for 2017.

“We notice a regained appreciation for the craft of distilling and bartending, which translates for us into creating environment representative of that passion and dedication. Our bars are real show pieces,” says Maxime Bocken, director of marketing and communications for Studio Munge. Each element of Westlight is a reflection of the surrounding community’s diversity, while challenging the notions of what a Brooklyn bar should be. Rather than reproducing what is popular, Studio Munge imagines one-of-akind, luxurious spaces, with an inviting ambience.


“It’s about creating intimacy and privacy without isolation”

Maxime Bocken, Marketing & Communications Director, Studio Munge

Designed to create a sense of anticipation, Westlight patrons walk through a long corridor into a warm space, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sweeping view over Manhattan. Black iron, natural stones, soft leathers and thick velvets create the visuals, which furthers the mood.

“It’s about creating intimacy and privacy without isolation,” observes Bocken, while noting that the team spent a great deal of time analyzing lighting levels, flow and seating arrangements. “Optimizing space has made extremely long —10 and twelve seat tables and also large round tables for smaller groups popular,” says Terry Caldwell of Empress Furniture and Design, in Battleford, Saskatchewan.

Marv Quehe, vice-president of sales for Adria Contract Seating Inc., one of Western Canada’s largest furniture manufacturers, with a focus on hospitality and the foodservice market, in Calgary, Alberta, points to table flexibility as a top priority. “If spacing is a concern, using smaller tables 24” x 30” or 30” x 30” tables, which can be adjoined to form larger tables, provides floor management.”

As for chairs, Jeremy Phillips director of business at Contract Furniture Solutions, Abel Industries (Canada) Ltd., in Vancouver, British Columbia, says it’s all about keeping options open, “Bar owners can optimize space is by using a seating environment that can be removed at night for another use. By using chairs that are stacking, an area of the bar can be easily transformed into a dance floor, while requiring only minimal storage space. This way when the bar is at peak hour for guests to eat, revenue can be generated. Later in the evening, more revenue can be generated by creating a social environment that keeps guests in the bar drinking.”

Keeping patrons happy, with beautiful design elements and superb hospitality, while using space to maximize both comfort and profitability is the key to a successful bar.


Written by Karen Ball for Bar & Beverage’s Holiday Issue