Yesterday I wrote briefly about how furniture plays a key role in the success of the Broadview Hotel Café interior. I promised to expand on how the space’s interior zones are defined by furniture installations that express spatial and cultural meaning. Of the six interior zones identified – the circular stacked bar, the wingback entrance lounge, the womb-chair in wood salon, the café chair dining range, the harvest table multi-use space, and the service bench – let’s start with the circular stacked bar.
Positioned in the centre of the rectangular floor space emphasized by a bloom of hexagonal porcelain floor tiles set into end grain wood blocks, this bespoke bar is a recognizable type of table and stool combination. It features a large circular serving surface detailed in milled wood and marble. The polished metal and glass shelves stacked above follow the table’s curve and make a tall decorative feature of the bartender’s spirits and tonics. Lush indoor plants cap the vertical; this is not an architectural room within a room. Patrons can pull up a padded stool to the counter’s full cabinet front, rest their foot on the brass rail, and feel welcomed. It is clearly visible from the street as a beacon and from the hotel lobby as a destination. It stands when others sit and is a landmark anchoring the room’s organization.
Each of the café’s interior zones revolve around this circular feature. The lounge and salon areas mark our approach to the bar; the long axis of the dining range hugs the bar’s swelling perimeter; the multi-use back dining area terminates our path around the bar. Design features in the bar’s composition further emphasize its spatial function. There is a marble serving cube inserted into the front segment of bar’s wood cabinet that does away with seats and shelves and reverses spatial focus back to the adjacent mirrored waiting zone. The bar’s seats and shelves are made available just as our passage deeper into the interior might get stalled, and we are lead further around the bar’s curve. This circulation path then loops back to pass the (strangely) public service bench and kitchen link. At the end of our promenade we either find the glorious stairway to the restrooms or exit back to the lobby.
The circular stacked bar is a landmark furniture piece in the room’s overall design that also activates a sense of place. As evidenced by re-run TV shows and movies, the bar stool and service counter unit is a surprisingly intimate shared space that can become a symbol of community. More than the precise and quantifiable qualities of a designed space, a sense of place is something supplementary and ineffable that involves memory, contingent experience, and personal context. Furniture, with its recognizable lexicon of ancient types to which are added contemporary details, can support the experience of interior place. It appears that the designers and custom fabricators who worked on this project were careful to balance forms, details and materials keeping these considerations in mind.
Join me tomorrow for my next installment in this serialized essay. As I work through this critical reading of an interior via its furniture, please let me know if I can expand on or correct any details of identification or interpretation.
Interiors by @theDesignAgency
Images: Photos by Karen R. White