Alberto Caiola | Flask
Shanghai, Flask Shanghai, speakeasy, cocktail bar, cocktail, design, Alberto Caiola, Caiola, Alberto, The Press
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Shen Zhonghai

Brand Strategy, Concept Design, Interior Design, Site Supervision
About This Project

Flask and The Press is an unconventional duo that upends the traditional speakeasy concept: an intimate contemporary lounge concealed behind the facade of a cheery, sandwich shop. Together, they’re a juxtaposition of light and dark, elegance and funkyness, personal and playful.

Aiming to launch a speakeasy in the heart of Shanghai’s former French Concession, renown mixologists & their passionate partners commissioned the development of the concept, location scouting and its space design.

Considering that Shanghai has already seen its fair share of hidden speakeasy-themed bars and lounges we decided to build suspense and break it in an entirely unexpected fashion. In order to maximise impact, we would need to execute the project in a fundamentally different, distinct way, building expectations and genuine surprise by creating contradictory, anachronistic aesthetics.

As a result, we created The Press, a colourful sandwich shop. At first glance, The traditional diner setting of The Press looks immediately familiar to passerby, but a number of edgier, more contemporary details call for a second look: the smooth, finished countertops in colourful  shades, neon lighting strips and polished minimalism of the furnishings set against unfinished walls, rough concrete walls and floors, plus a dramatic, asymmetrical drop ceiling create an unconventional scene that inspires curiosity in the space. The centrepiece of the room is a vintage Coca-Cola vending machine, which is split vertically to swing open and reveal the entrance to Flask. 

Stepping into the tunnel between The Press and Flask, the visitor experiences an extreme contrast in environment. The fun, lighthearted feel, the bright colours and lighting—within a few steps, these elements segue into a mysterious space with warm, muted lighting and the murmurs of bar patrons to invite further curiosity. Following the camouflage door, the patron is presented with more visual cues of the traditional speakeasy: elaborate displays of bottles of liquor, a blend of dark and dim, plus a motley crew of furniture pieces that hints at the evanescence of these establishments as they were in the past. 

Continuing the play on eras and expectations, we integrated a number of contemporary intrusions throughout Flask. The first of these is a striking drop ceiling: an array of angular cubes cascading towards the entrance creates a mysterious allure for guests to further explore the space. We also created two installations featuring bottles of liquor. The first is a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit standing right next to the entrance, with 25 litre whiskey bottles that has a built-in spotlight on each bottle to illuminate the amber glow of the liquid inside. The second is a wall installation featuring rows of flasks that are hidden behind a mysterious layer—like the speakeasy itself, the surfaces of these flasks are hidden, with only the outline of their shapes to give the viewer an idea of what lies beneath.

The rest of the space is designed to feel private and personal. Lighting is kept minimal and muted, with several base points throughout the venue each emitting a warm glow of light that bounces off one another. The most prominent of these is the copper lighting arrangement in the inside of the drop ceiling, which diffuses subtle amber light from the overhead. This light reflects off of the cascading cubes on the other end of Flask, creating an overall glowing effect that lifts the conventionally imposing feeling of low ceilings. 

Led lights against the mirrored backdrop of the bar counter reflect the bottles on display back to the patrons, creating an illusion of depth that makes the wall seem to disappear. This slanted mirror also faces the entrance so that visitors looking straight ahead will see the flow of overhead cubes wrapping around his of her head, giving another subtle visual pull into the bar. On the far side of the venue, a large convex mirror reflects the entire bar back onto itself. 

To add to the warm, cozy feel of the venue, we created partitions in the seating area that transition with natural ease. Looking from the right side to the left of the venue, the heights of the seats and table surfaces are lowered, raised, and lowered again in increments to create a dynamic landscape within a compact, enclosed space. Similarly, the wooden floorboards parallel this fluid movement by going from dark, to light and back to darker wood. 

Flask & The Press覆了传统地下酒吧的设计理念:休闲的The Press三明治吧背后隐藏着一个现代感十足的私密酒吧,将光与影、优雅与时尚、个性与趣味融于一体。

名闻沪上的调酒师和满怀热情的合作伙伴想在上海前法租界中心地带开一家地下酒吧,于是将设计概念创作、选址和室内空间设计这些任务全权委托给了我们。国际大都市如上海,已然见惯了大隐隐于市的地下主题酒吧,因此我们决定为这个项目的设计蒙上一层神秘的面纱,再以完全出乎人意料的方式揭开谜底。为了达到最佳效果,我们必须以非常规的方式进行设计和施工, 缔造出对比鲜明的时空交错之感,为期待和惊喜做足铺垫。

于是,我们设计出了The Press三明治吧。传统又亲切的设计让人有似曾相识之感,但许多极富现代感的前卫细节会让你不禁驻足打量:浑然一体、色彩明亮的吧台,霓虹彩灯,粗糙原始的墙面,极简风格的装修,清水混泥土墙面和地面,还有一面夸张的不对称吊顶,都激发了来客对这个古怪空间的好奇心。墙边的可乐贩卖机是整个空间的焦点,这扇伪装而成的神奇大门连接两个不同世界,推开它,这才进入仿佛与世隔绝的Flask酒吧。

连接The Press和Flask的是一条幽静的走道,步入其中即可感受到两个空间的强烈对比。明亮的趣味性极强的休闲三明治吧,仅仅几步之遥就延伸至一个截然不同的风格空间:暖色调的昏暗灯影和客人之间的窃窃私语让人对这个神秘空间更加心生好奇。酒吧具有传统地下酒吧的标志陈列:酒架上整齐摆放的各种各样的酒瓶,幽暗深色的氛围,再加上完美融入设计的家具摆设,放佛带人穿越时空回到过去。

我们在Flask的设计中融合了众多现代细节,将时空交错和人们的期待玩转到底。首先,我们在入口安置了一个方形体块,呈倾斜角度垂向入口,半遮半掩的效果吊足客人想要继续探索的胃口。同时我们也做了两个以酒瓶为主题的装置设计,一个位于入口旁,在一整面镂空酒架上摆放了25个内置灯光的玻璃威士忌酒瓶, 瓶内的酒在灯光的映衬下摇曳出琥珀光泽;另一个则是在一面墙上,在三排细颈瓶外部罩上一块深色布,流畅的瓶身线条在深色布下清晰可见 —— 正如这家有着神秘面纱的酒吧一样。酒吧设计强调了私密性,灯光柔和昏暗,只在几个主要位置安装了色调温和的射灯,灯光在整个空间内流转呼应。最精妙的灯光设计是在吊顶内部安置铜灯,使得从顶上泻下的灯光如琥珀色丝质般柔滑。这些灯光通过酒吧另一端的倾斜方块微弱反射,从视觉上减弱了低天花板带来的压抑感,同时又为整个空间增添了别样风情。