Working with clients in the bar and restaurant industry is an exciting thrill. It challenges us to create an atmosphere in the purest sense of the word. As architects, we must focus on the development of tangible strategies to address requirements of human comfort, intimacy, social interaction and, dare we say it, fun. We must at once consider the first-date couple who sits nervously in the corner on Wednesday night AND the family with young children eagerly watching the football game on a Saturday afternoon. The spaces need to cater to a variety of user groups and still feel deliberate and special for each. Needless to say, the challenges in designing a bar or restaurant provide us with incredibly useful lessons that we love to translate into all of our projects, regardless of type. Also, it affords us the unique opportunity to mix architecture with beer - who could argue with that?
We were recently asked to design a renovation to a longstanding neighborhood staple in the Lake View community of Chicago. This bar had existed for nearly twenty years and had a loyal following of regulars who loved its quirky demeanor and welcoming atmosphere. The formula was already sound albeit delicate and fragile. Every x, every y was meaningful and was in balance. Still it was in need of help. When asked to update these eclectic spaces, our challenge became a careful process of refreshing the existing elements while protecting the intangible qualities of the spaces. The only way forward was to incorporate the Owner into the process, relying on his intimate knowledge of the bar's culture as a catalyst for our design.
As with all project types, we crave feedback and strive to constantly evolve in response to it. It's a genuine pleasure to circle back with our hospitality clients once they've worked in their new spaces for a time to ask them for their thoughts on their new space(s), how they work in support of their business, how their patrons have responded to the improvements and how happy they have been with the relationship they've built with Ellipsis. We asked our friend Kevin at Matilda to provide his thoughts on the project and his satisfaction with Ellipsis. Here's what he said:
I have had the privilege of working with the design team at Ellipsis on multiple projects at two of my businesses.
At Matilda, 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 20 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 them apart from all other persons I have worked with in the creative and construction fields.
Our sincerest gratitude goes out to Kevin and the charming staff at Matilda for the opportunity to work with our long-term friends, break bread, drink their beer and to create something special for their space that will be enjoyed by their loyal customers (Ellipsis design team included) for years to come.