Design Focus: Singl-end, Glasgow

Singlend P1090878

Named after a Glasgow institution, Singl-end on the city’s Renfrew Street is making strides to become an institution in its own right. On the same street as the Glasgow Art School, Singl-end adds its own splash of distinctly Glaswegian creativity to Garnethill. Robert McCraken reports.

Owner Gianni Pagliocca has transformed a former warehouse in Garnethill into a community focussed bar, restaurant and deli. With Gianni, perhaps best associated with The Butterfly and the Pig, you could be forgiven for expecting a similar kitsch feel in this new venue, however as Gianni explained, Singl-end is aesthetically very different. “I wanted to do something totally different from The Butterfly and the Pig. The space is totally different.”
Approaching the basement bar the use of space is already obvious, even from the outside. An open wooden deck is bordered by a traditional red brick wall on one side and the expansive windows of the restaurant on the other. It has an understated but quirky entranceway. The bold blue door is adorned with postcards and stamps from decades gone by. To the right of the doorway, a window with original blue window bars provides a classic, industrial feature. Under the window sits traditional milk churns, in the same striking blue that dominates the entrance and continues throughout.
Stepping inside the 100 cover restaurant the first impression is of a bright and airy space with an ultra modern kitchen area which is situated right at the door. The restaurant extends along to the left of the main entrance, and the expansive windows, framed by exposed brickwork, run the length of the room. To the right is the deli where fruits, vegetables and various delights are on display.
The eye is drawn back to the dining area however as the most impressive feature of Singl-end hangs above it. The ceiling holds 20 Polaroid screens, each attached to its own pantograph above the tables. The criss-crossed, scissor-like pantographs extend to table height and provide customers with their own high-tech computer tablet menu. The retro looking pantographs are a truly unique feature and are visually impressive to any visitor.
This modern look that surrounds Singl-end is matched by its forward thinking ‘green’ outlook. With the licensed trade in Scotland more conscious than ever of becoming ‘green’ with Zero Waste regulations being imposed from the turn of the year, Singl-end are taking innovative steps to be eco-friendly. With an ePOS system that allows customers to receive receipts by email, the potential exists for a paperless restaurant.
The networking and cabling infrastructure for this system was installed by Glasgow based Spirit Technology and Managing Director Neil Buchanan was keen to help Gianni find the best system for Singl-end. He comments, “We help our customers find the best solutions for their business. We were able to tailor our system to Gianni’s needs because we make our systems match the requirements of our customer. We’ve provided networking for future planning and we’ve split the WiFi service to separate the wireless network for the ePOS system from the customer WiFi, which means if customers are streaming videos or music it won’t have any effect on the effectiveness of the ePOS.”
By installing extra networking capability and cabling, Spirit Technology has ensured Singl-end can look ahead to any changes in the future with ease. Says Neil, “At the stage of install, it’s easy to put in extra cabling to allow changes in the future. The system we installed has future proofed Singl-end.”
The buzzing open kitchen and long bar splits the main dining area from the deli. A minimalist back bar is punctuated at one end by the glowing pizza ovens and bar-top fridges at the other.
The restaurant has an industrial feel, imparted by the blue and grey colour scheme and the various industrial and mechanical touches that run throughout, as far removed from The Butterfly and the Pig as you could get. The L shaped bar front is adorned with gleaming corrugated metal and fluorescent lighting dangles above, providing a modern and fresh looking bar area.
Gianni was inspired to name the venue ‘Singl-end’ after hearing his grandfather use the familiar Glaswegian term used to describe a single room tenement flat, however this is not the only inspiration Gianni has taken from his grandfather. The long, glass bar top protects an expansive collection of old coins, both foreign and British, giving the bar a unique and intriguing look. More of Gianni’s collection of coins are framed on the wall. The walls are a feature in their own right with exposed conducts, shiny copper pipes and metal framework lining the main wall area of the restaurant and exemplifying the industrial theme that Singl-end has. The metalwork on the wall also serves as a bracket for a collection of televisions – some showing muted TV, others displaying the various menus. “We put in the conduit and the copper piping, we tried to really take the building back to what it was” says Gianni.
The original metal supports have been exposed and painted dark blue, making them a feature in their own right. Over and above the blue and grey theme, the restaurant benefits from a splash of muted pink. The pink retro sideboards work as quirky serving stations and are perhaps the only feature that may look at home in The Butterfly and the Pig as Gianni explains “The sideboards I got at auction years ago for The Butterfly and the Pig and decided to use them here.” Gianni goes on to explain the colour scheme also stays true to the building’s roots as a warehouse, “We found a lot of dark blue when peeling back plasterboard. It looked like an industrial paint but I liked the colours so went with them.”
The window shutters are decked out in the familiar blue shade first spotted as you enter. The most intriguing feature though is the bespoke upholstered pads which decorate the window shutters. The fabric has been produced by Rhubarb and Ginger and stitched by Gianni’s mother, JoJo. The patterns reflect the Mediterranean style recipes used in the Singl-end kitchen. A unique pattern depicting the classic Italian marriage of mozzarella and tomatoes is displayed on the window shutters and on the staff aprons.
The unique feel of Singl-end continues with the seating arrangements. Glass topped tables, decorated with written postcards and other artefacts gives the customer a look at some traditional Glasgow stories from days gone by. Contrasting with the more modern and mechanical looking tables and stools, once again, staying true to the industrial feeling the venue has. Fellow Garnethill company, The Glasgow Guild, upholstered the 40 bench style seats and booths in a traditional ticking fabric complete with royal blue trim. Working closely with Gianni, they came up with the design for the new venue.
Glasgow Guild’s John Cowie knew that the needs of Singl-end would match the ethos of Glasgow Guild, “We liked the uniqueness of Singl-end and we were aware of The Butterfly and the Pig so we knew it was our sort of style.”
“We do one-off pieces and commissions and try to find creative solutions for our customers. Gianni was looking for a company to realise their idea and we were glad to help.”
This epitomises the venue as a whole, a unique and modern take on traditional Glaswegian culture. The bespoke feel that oozes from Singl-end goes down as far as the china. Cups, saucers and ‘coo juice’ branded milk jugs, created at Glasgow’s Fireworks Studios, are a quaint finishing touch.
Singl-end marries a unique Glaswegian charm with an undeniable modern touch and does so with effortless style. A contemporary venue that is every bit as unique as the city itself.