Designing a High-End Social Destination

Some of Built, Inc.'s high end designs.

Do the names Pink Taco, 1 OAK, Bootsy Bellows, Shorebar, or Blind Dragon mean anything to you? They should. They’re all successful high-end venues known for their great hospitality designs. John Sofio, president of Built Hospitality Design Group (the firm behind the designs of previously mentioned upscale destinations), explained the keys to designing a high-end social destination: circulation, lighting, durability, and unique design.

Importance of Circulation

If you’re in the industry or have spent enough time in bars, lounges and nightclubs that you tend to analyze the design of whatever venue you visit, you understand that bottlenecks are bad. Circulation makes it easy for guests to move around and mingle. Poor circulation can create hostility, confrontations, frustration, and an overall poor customer experience. Provide a continuous pathway for guests to walk throughout the night.

Creating the Energy of a Room through Lighting

Lighting can make or break a concept, particularly high-end concepts. You can use color to shape mood, affecting the energy of your venue. The lighting you use throughout your space needs to be balanced, and LED lighting can be implemented to achieve that balance. LED lighting isn’t all bright white, red or blue; there are plenty of warm options that can create a sophisticated feel. Indirect lighting, sources of lighting that are hidden to eliminate dazzle and shadows, is perfect for upscale destinations but it’s critical that this type of lighting be planned from the start of the project. Finally, consider combining vintage design features with modern lighting technology for a sleek and modern but intimate and inviting feel.

Fabrication Techniques for Durability

Bar, lounge and nightclub operators know all too well that their space and everything in it is going to be worn down, torn up and damaged. Sofio says that all elements of a venue must be durable to stand up to the intense use to which it will be subjected for the duration of the night. An example of high-end but durable design are the booths at Bootsy Bellows. The table, the seating material, and the wall all look elegant and high end but a look at the design notes reveals that the seating is laminated vinyl with plywood underneath. Those pretty walls? Fire protection, plywood and a stud wall.

Develop Unique Design Concepts

Unique design concepts give guests more than something to talk about or Instagram. They can transport your guests to another place and time if executed professionally. Examples of Built’s design concepts are the booths at Bootsy Bellows, the pop-out, curved wall details of SHOREbar, Hooray Henry’s sophisticated vintage design features, and the incredibly over-the-top yet sophisticated interior of Blind Dragon.

As you can see, hiring a design firm with several successful upscale hospitality venues to their name is worth the expense. After all, who wants to trust their concept’s design to someone who has never worked at a bar or has only designed office buildings?

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