For those who frequent this eclectic Chicago bar/restaurant, most will agree that, in addition to great food, drink and conversation, its true magic and charm lies in its ever-changing quirky persona.
For many years, every nook and cranny, each shelf and alcove of the bar interior was adorned with a constantly-evolving collection of second-glance oddities and off-kilter, iconic objects. These are the heart and soul of the space’s ambiance, provided a spectrum of visual interest and a common utterance of questions such as, “has that always been there?” or “when did that get there?”
Over time, various updates have been made to improve the space while other things have fallen into increasingly-poor shape due to the day-to-day business of keeping the neighborhood happy on their bar stools. The space, it seemed, needed a jump-start to reinvigorate the spirit on which it had always prided itself. As a result, the need for yet another change became evident, one which would rejuvenate the space while remaining open to evolution and change, one which would define the bar’s character clearly without fixing it in time or aesthetic.
Thus, the design was fueled with the idea that architecture, in all its function and usefulness, can serve as a canvas for beauty and unknown creative invention. Rather than providing a design solution, we instead constructed a thoughtful framework within which, future additions, subtractions and alterations may occur.
A series of pinwheel geometries, each a different size and orientation, combines to frame the elements of function in the bar room. A recessed television and fireplace are framed aside a primary seating area while wine, beer and liquor bottles are displayed at various points behind the bar. Glassware is housed at key moments in the pattern to enhance the working rhythm and efficiency of the bartenders during busy shifts. A series of back-lit logos populate other frames within the pattern, paying homage to the legacy and evolution of the bar. Most importantly, most of the frames are left blank, open to the invention of the staff and its patrons over time. The winter holidays may find several of these occupied with holiday wrapping paper and bows while, at other times, they may be loaned out as spaces for the presentation of work by local artists. No matter what fills the pattern over time and why, the only mandate the design holds is the necessity for it to change and evolve constantly into the future.
I have had the privilege ofworking with the design team at Ellipsis on multiple projects at two of my businesses.
At Matilda (Pinwheel), a 20 year old bar and restaurant, the creative team at Ellipsis was able to take a basic description of an idea I had to re-skin a 15’x50’ wall and turn it into reality. The result is the main focus of the updates that were completed to bring a 30 year old bar up to date. Additionally, the team was able to design a new primary and secondary logo for Matilda to launch in coordination with these changes. Their collective ability to comprehend the ideas discussed during the investigation phase of development set him apart from all other persons I have worked with in the creative and construction fields.