Alan Tomkins hasn’t quite managed to bring the Bali sunshine to Glasgow by naming his latest bar on Bath Street after his favourite holiday destination on the island. But his refurbished basement bar, Kuta, is bright, fresh and funky.
The former red-heavy Tapela, with its black bull silhouettes and abstract paint work, is now an oasis of exposed natural/white brick, LED lighting, monochrome striped flock wallpaper – an altogether lighter look.
Newcastle-based Space I.D. came up with the design, and had to turn the whole project around rather quickly. Company Director, Marc Hardy, explains, “We were up against quite a tight time frame on this project, and there was a fair amount of manipulation of the existing interior. The use of LED to reflect the changes in mood from daytime to evening, and the onus on new media, like the digital picture frames, give the interior standout. We wanted to achieve a chameleonic look and feel.”
The layout and position of the bar remain the same in that it’s still split level with a raised seating area at the back as you enter, in front of which the main seating area is located. To the left of the door, and all along most of the wall, is the lengthy bar which has been extended as part of the refit. There’s also a window into the bar with the Kuta logo etched into it, parallel to the stairs as you enter from the street.
Let’s kick off by talking about the LED lighting, which has been used to its fullest extent to reflect an array of moods and times of day. It lifts the relatively plain colour scheme of white, cream and gunmetal grey, which provides a bit of a canvas for all of the changing hues. There’s a wooden floor, white pillars and all along the back wall banquette seating with grey leather on the seat and a kind of brown suede on the back rest. Above this is a shelf containing a long, horizontal mirror, greatly enhanced by the LED lighting all around it. There are also varying sizes of table and chairs peppered about this section, including a shelf partition separating the two areas along which are candles in glass vases. Customers can also pull up a stool here and enjoy a view all around the bar. The tables and chairs are chiefly made from black wood, but there are also some clear plastic chairs in the mix too, which were my particular favourites.
The bar itself combines elements of wood, glass and chrome – with some LED thrown in too. However, the cluster of frames, some empty, some containing small screens displaying advertising is easily the most novel addition. They take up one entire wall behind the bar, and these are also dotted along the walls in other parts of Kuta. The wooden bar front has been painted in a muted green colour, and back bar is fairly simplistic with cupboards in between the fridges, black working top, on top of which are two glass shelves that are illuminated, making up the gantry.
Directly to the left of the bar is an alcove lined with banquette seating and natural light from the glass pavement blocks above, although white blinds are permanently closed to soften it. White exposed brick combines with mood lighting and high circular tables to make for a terrific space for small parties to utilise.
The raised area at the back of Kuta also benefits from the LED magic, gold frames and a mixture of stylish furniture and upholstery. Add to this black and white striped flock wallpaper and silver shaded wall lights, and you have an extra dimension to the design. Like its larger counterpart, this area also has horizontal shelf along the top of the back wall of seating, although instead of a mirror, it looks on to the corridor leading to the toilets.
A small brick inlet looks like a bit of a shrine to the bar, as it displays the name Kuta in sleek silver letters and lit from above with two spotlights.
The changes may be on the subtle side, but Alan Tomkins has proved the old adage that sometimes less really is more.