One of the unavoidable pitfalls of hotel design are the projects that go on hold never to resume, or the hotels that start as one brand and end up as another. In these cases, months of work may have been undertaken, during which designers put the finishing touches to their concept, and sit back and admire what they hope will one day be a realised space…only for the research, sketches and moodboards to be archived, usually never to be seen again.


So, we thought we would unearth a few of these “lost” projects and share some of the concepts that remained just that.


This time round we’re looking at bars, a space that can push the boundaries of design and transport guests into another world.

In this concept for a hip and lively venue in the centre of Budapest, a long “table” as bar evokes a simpler home environment while a glass cube, divided into classic Rubik’s cube proportions makes for an imposing feature. (The Rubik’s cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik.) The structure houses a wildly inventive laboratory, roasting coffee in the mornings and infusing “own label” gin in the evenings.


Transforming pop art on the walls add humour to the design. The 3D team experimented with facial features on three portraits inspired by artist Julian Opie, causing eyebrows to raise, moustaches to twitch and eyes to wink.

The client’s brief was for this bar in Abuja, Nigeria, to have the feel of a gentleman’s club. A strong and masculine palette of deep reds and rich browns in embossed crocodile print leather is offset with delicate bronze screenwork. The intricate geometric and circular patterns have been influenced by the vibrant Ankara fabrics traditionally used for Nigerian clothes. This motif continues in the batik-like studded fabric panels to the walls.


Glass doors with metal inlay partially conceal a smoking room creating a secluded space. Behind the bar, a bronze whiskey display is lit below, giving the bottles a luminescent glow.

For this hotel cafe/bar in Shanghai, the brief was to create a bar that would work as a bistro by day serving coffee and light snacks/continental breakfast. At this point the main doors are able to open out onto the street to allow more natural daylight and the ability to sit outside. As daylight dwindles the space transforms into a more traditional evening bar with emphasis on wine and signature cocktails. Whilst the concept is grounded in a more European idea, the interior styling takes its cue from the building itself which is based on the art deco period of Shanghai architectural history.


The space is spread over 2 levels, connected via a round hole that steps up to the 2nd level and is clad in a light bronze metal finish. Glowing onyx sphere’s cascade down through this aperture, connecting the two levels and creating focus for the ground floor space. Additionally, a double height wine cellar forms the feature of the rear elevation and rises up through to the second floor to achieve the same effect for the upper level space.


The bar counter itself is made up of a double curved hammered copper metal finish that will offer distorted reflections of the lower level of space. The copper and onyx finish are then repeated within the rear bar display that forms a backdrop for this elevation. The combination of varied textures, patterns and finishes culminates in a rich and layered interior that can, through carefully considered lighting, be engineered to work effectively from sunrise to sunset and well into the night.

The Cloud Bar was on the top floor of a luxury hotel in Changsha and was afforded stunning views over the city. This breathtaking skyline is enhanced through the use of decorative optical glasses that run alongside stone pillars with metal bronze inlay. The central bar counter features etched cloud motifs and above, an ethereal lighting feature made from a glass box with an inner square of delicate cloud pattern fabric sheaths a cluster of lights as if seen from afar.

This wine cellar/Humidor was formed within the under croft of the main hotel building that had been embedded into the hillside of this luxury resort project. The space was conceived as a result of considering how a food and beverage concept might be achieved within a space with only very limited daylight and view to one elevation only.


The solution was to capture the spirit created by some of the local historic settlements that make up Montenegro and to ensure that this formed a natural transition to the more classic spaces created above.


Architecturally the space was divided into a grid formed by the columns dropping down from the hotel spaces above. These columns were then utilised to form the spring points for stone clad arches that are reminiscent of local vernacular and helped to form natural divisions to the room.


A combination of large slabs of local rustic stone and specialist plaster work formed the basic ingredients of this space and were combined with dark bronze metal accents and chunky timber sections to combine to form a strong and dramatic backdrop.


In order to offset the more rustic local materials, luxurious and comfortable furnishings combine with warm and soft low-level accent lighting to achieve a characterful, intimate and inviting experience.

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