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An Early Modern Aesthetic Shapes Union Bar by AvroKO

AvroKO’s Bangkok studio has designed the new Union bar for Beijing hotel The Opposite House, focusing on a sense of discovery and emotionally connected experiences.

An Early Modern Aesthetic Shapes Union Bar by AvroKO

One of Beijing’s most exclusive hotels, the Kengo Kuma-designed The Opposite House, is hoping to cement its place as a design icon in the trendy Sanlitun area with the opening of a new bar: Union by AvroKO.


The design team’s modernist-inspired metal and geometric shapes are used to create a space that cleverly transforms between day-time coffee lounge and night-time cocktail venue. The designers were inspired by the 1920s and the age of “early modernism, transformation and experimentation.”


AvroKO sought to make the most of the high ceilings while giving the customer a sense of intimacy by defining the space with a series of sculptural metal walls. Unique connection plates create pill-shaped negative spaces throughout the bar.


From certain positions, the screens align to create a moment of discovery and order. “The layering of different planes of screens creates a dynamic flow to the space and adds a touch of mystery to the seating areas,” say the designers.


AvroKO also used vertical brass rods to give more texture and an industrial touch to the bar’s perimeter and entrance area. Similarly, a metal mesh ‘expo wall’ separates the bar from the hotel reception and acts as background to an impressive display of custom artwork.


Meanwhile, intricately detailed and textured brass screens define certain gathering spaces and further sculpt the different areas. “While seemingly whimsical, the space is strategically and methodically organised to have a clear social flow,” AvroKO explains.


Throughout, AvroKO has used black and terracotta leathers and lush velvets on the furnishings and fittings. Pops of blue and teal – including two-tone teal blown-glass light fixtures – create a distinct modernist identity for the bar.

The bar’s geometrical shapes, meanwhile, reference the experimental use of shape, form and material in the early age of modernism. “Furniture is situated to echo the social clubs of the past,” explains AvroKO.


Union’s statement monolithic travertine bar is the designers’ favourite aspect. “The wonderful, light tone of the stone feels contemporary and refreshing, and the stunning grey veining lends a natural sophistication to the piece,” they say.


The back bar behind morphs between day-time and night-time use. During the day, sliding screens reveal beautiful coffee and tea equipment. While in the evening, liquor bottles sit in front of a deep red lacquer backdrop.


“During the day the airy, lofty space is inspiring and refreshing. After work and into the evening, the lighting becomes much more dramatic,” say the designers, indicating how Union will command attention and enjoyment all through the day.

Photography: Owen Raggett

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