Design Focus: The Crescent
It’s been a long time coming, but Bubbles and Rahul Randev of the R Group have finally unveiled their latest Glasgow venture, The Crescent. It’s on the corner of Argyle Street and Kelvingrove Street, occupying the premises that used to be 54 Below and latterly Distil. The brothers also own and operate other outlets in Bishopbriggs, Lenzie and Milngavie.
So was it worth the wait? If you appreciate nods to the building’s original incarnation, a quality finish topped off with a flurry of quirky touches, then the answer’s yes.
Luckily it’s only a stone’s throw from our office so I was able to bob in for a tour with none other than a very busy Rahul Randev himself days before the business opened its doors towards the end of last month. He kicked off by telling me about the design concept and what they were hoping to achieve with their trademark meticulous approach to each new unit they put their name to. He said, “We completely stripped the place back inside and out and that’s when we discovered the old Crescent sign on the outside of the building when we restoring it and it so happens that we were looking for a name at that point so we just went with that and named the place The Crescent.”
He continued, “We also looked back over the archives in the library to get some history on the building. We discovered that it used to be owned by a wine and spirits merchant called Archibald Cameron, circa 1882, and we discovered this whole backstory the more we drilled down. Including the fact that he blended his own whisky called Royal Charlie and we’re considering running with this name for a cocktail perhaps.”
The bar main bar area is located on the ground floor, with toilets and kitchen in the basement. Bubbles and Rahul are known never to stint on the design of the toilets, and sleek light grey tiles and white porcelain sinks and urinals give the gents a clean airy feeling despite being in the basement of the building.
The ground floor space the bar occupies is still essentially three areas in one: the main bar area, a raised seating area and a wee snug behind the bar on the Argyle Street entrance, which part of the bar also ‘peeks’ into in the form of a wee servery.
Let’s kick things off with the main bar area. The first thing I was struck by, as well as the quality of the finish, was the fact that the bar has been extended as well as the windows widened to fit their original frame size. There’s also a completely new parquet floor throughout.
Brass is an overriding design feature in this area, as it is in the other parts of the bar albeit to a lesser extent, like the brass fish scale design that decorates the front of the bar, and the brass gantry shelves that are so high that they require a library-style ladder to fully access. It’s a kind of antique brass that dovetails neatly with the lovely green tiles, ornate gold-painted cornicing and exposed brick walls and.
And speaking of those, this was such a masterstroke on the part of Rahul
and Bubbles because it has unearthed a previously closed off fireplace and that’s on the wall where the stairs go down to the basement.
The exposed stone and frontage also helps The Crescent fit in with its too-cool-to-fool Finnieston neighbours, many of whom have gone down the same road both internally by restoring and reinstating original features galore, exposing brick and stone etc., and externally by exposing the original (there or thereabouts) signage on the fronts of their buildings, for example.
The bar top is made from dark wood and finished off beautifully with
a high gloss varnish that really shows off the grain of the wood. Above the bar hang long strip lights encased in brass covers. This is one brightly lit bar. The tables opposite the bar are a mixture of wood and brass-top, paired with wooden chairs, above which are big glass and brass lights on thick chains.
Through to the back ‘wee snug’ area and there are some subtle yet effective changes, like the removal of the big heavy doors that now mercifully allows natural light to flood in. As I said, part of the bar juts into this space, plus they’ve also added some lovely booths upholstered in burgundy velvet.
The raised level, as you enter from Kelvingrove Street, boasts walls painted in a calming racing green the same booths upholstered in green and teal velvet material, that should clash by rights but actually works very well, along the top of which runs some shelving, again made from wood and brass that will eventually be used to display bottles, decanters etc.
This area also has some pendant lights with fringes that wouldn’t look out of place in a clairvoyant’s office. Opposite this line of booths is a sole red/burgundy velvet booth, above sit a set of brass walllights that look like they’re out of an art-deco cinema.
And speaking of lighting, Rahul told me that the majority of the spend had gone on the lighting and the brass. The other lozenge-shaped lights that have been used are from a yacht and a submarine, and look really cool dotted about the place.
The Crescent epitomises Bubbles and Rahul’s thoughtful, detail-oriented
approach to design, but what I took away from this most is, in a transient climate, they ‘ve built this bar to last in a corner unit that you could argue is the cornerstone licensed premises in the very heart of Finnieston.
1106 Argyle Street, Finnieston, Glasgow