Design Focus: Amicus Apple, Edinburgh

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A tree in a pub sounds like fantasy but it has kind of become a reality in the new-look Amicus Apple in Edinburgh. Part of the £500k re-design has taken the apple theme right back to its roots with a wooden representation of a tree, and it was conceived by owner Signature Pubs’ longtime collaborator, Tibbatts.Abel.
Time was, this Edinburgh basement bar was awash with futuristic white and a heavy use of beechwood in what was a bit of a spartan interior. In its place, there’s now lots of natural wood and rich colours, which all conspire to make the bar’s interior more brooding and earthy – and more in keeping with its subterranean setting.
GM Ross Ovenstone says, “There’s amazing attention to detail evident in this design. From the wooden ‘tree’, with its ‘branches’ reaching across the ceiling, to the collection of thousands of five pence pieces encased in a glass cabinet running underneath the length of the bar. There are a lot of talking points. Amicus Apple Aberdeen is next in line, and there may be some similarities with what we’ve done here for continuity’s sake, but there’ll also be some departures.”
The changes are evident from the moment you walk in to Amicus Apple, beginning with the teal painted circular metal tables outside, and the arresting curved glass screen that leads you into the main part of the bar, while sectioning off the seating area with the ‘tree’, at the same time.
At the entrance end there are a few tables looking onto a wall feature that looks like moss, in a vibrant green colour, behind a glass illuminated case. I quite like this as it brings a bit of the outside in.
The copper bar top sits on a glass base which houses the five pence pieces, which at the end of the year will go to a nominated charity, and there are elements of copper along the back bar, which also features exposed brick and a large central mirror with an apple etched into it, flanked by smoked glass – very Swarovski crystal like. The bar is illuminated by a row of smoky grey and brown bell-shaped lampshades that cast a muted glow.
Opposite the bar are two stylish specially commissioned paintings of tattooed people by an artist called Terry Bradley. One of the tattoos displays the name Wood, a nod to owner Garreth Wood, while the other one references Amicus Apple.
Underneath the paintings is a fairly high banquette matching the bar in length, and some, by curving into a little nook with a table, pendant light and mirror.
The furniture and décor throughout is a bright mixture of colours – red, dark green, teal and yellow, with chairs coming in various shapes and sizes. There are also with wooden ‘lunchboxes’ on every table, which house cutlery and complementary sweets.
Although it’s beyond the main area that you’ll find the brightest area by far – the dining room. It is an explosion of reds, blues, silvery greys and whites, all set off by wall-to-wall mirrors and twinkling lights.
A sleek grey velour upholstered banquette runs all the way around the right hand-side wall, with a painted red wooden trim that rises and falls like a city skyline. The dining room is also carpeted, so the overall result is plush and extravagant.
Red flock wallpaper, mirrored ceiling and a medieval banquet style of light hangs above your head, although you have to look up to notice it, in the small area that separates both the main bar and the area for diners.
The area at the front with the tree also merits more of a mention. Set on the back wall, the trunk looks like half a chocolate orange splayed out, with shafts of wood arching above you on the ceiling. Underneath it are two plush booths in rich plums, purples and burgundies, with smoky glass also making another appearance. This is perhaps my favourite area.
That’s not to say I didn’t like the rest of it. I did. Particularly the green moss and Terry Bradley’s paintings.
WFC were the main contractors, site manager, Frazer Reid told DRAM, “The biggest concern for a project like this will always be the time constraints we have to work to, but without patting ourselves on the back, this kind of turn around is the norm for us. This project was completed in 4 weeks and it will be the same time scale for the Aberdeen site which is due to refurbishment shortly. The tree is obviously the stand out feature, and the bar is just stunning. If you had to take time to count all the coins used in the bar front, you’d be taken aback – We literally cleared both the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland out of 5p pieces!”
“We’re obviously happy with the overall finish of the project, and looking forward to working on the Aberdeen Amicus Apple too. We love working with the client, because they are exactly that… A client that you work ‘with’.”