Design Focus: The Crafters Barn, Edinburgh

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The Crafter’s Barn in Edinburgh is a project born of passion. Managing Director Byron Holland and his partner Amber Rashid spent five years working on private motorboats around the globe. During a stop-off in the US Virgin Islands, the couple visited a pizzeria and beer bar, where Amber asked for a glass of wine and was rebuffed. She was presented instead with a bottle of Belgian cherry beer. “That’s where it started really”, Byron told DRAM, “and from then on we looked for a Belgian bar at every port we happened to stop.” After five years the couple returned to the UK, intent on working for themselves and replicating the passion for hospitality that they had found on their travels. From there, The Crafter’s Barn was born, a small, boutique, Belgian beer bar.
With a Belgian beer menu featuring over 50 of the country’s finest dubbels, tripels and Trappist ales, as well as rotating draught offerings, Byron and Amber’s influence is apparent. The cocktail list even features homemade, Belgian beer ingredients, such as Leffe marmalade and Belle Vue Kriek jam. Gourmet pizzas are the house speciality – Byron spent a week in Naples learning the art of pizza-making, and the kitchen imports its base ingredients from Italy. Steaks are served on lava stones, allowing the customer to cook their meal to preference, and it would be remiss not to also mention the Belgian mussel pots available in four different sauces.
As you approach The Crafter’s Barn, you are struck by the minimalist signage and branding on the exterior, intended to maximise the venue’s natural surroundings. Few bars in Scotland can boast as breathtaking a view as The Crafter’s Barn, its large windows facing out over Central Edinburgh and the bustle of human traffic making their way between Princes Street and the castle. Customers can gaze lazily at this view from The Mound as they are absorbed into the couch seating which sits either side of the bar’s entrance.
Designers Surface ID were responsible for the creation of the concept through to the completion, working from Byron and Amber’s precise brief. Byron explains, “We wanted to create a reclaimed, industrial warehouse vibe while maintaining a homely atmosphere. The throws over the back of the banquettes, for example, help soften the interior without detracting from the urban feel about the place.”
The original stone walls are lined with banquette leather seating on one side and intimate booth seating on the other. French cafe chairs were provided by Andy Thornton Ltd, featuring an antique white finish and a typically vintage style. Wooden light fixtures constructed from reclaimed storage pallets hang above the tables on the banquette side, dangling bulbs of assorted lengths like over-sized fairy lights.
Perhaps The Crafter’s Barn’s most distinctive feature is the bespoke, communal high table that runs through the centre of the restaurant. The table top is moulded from reclaimed industrial timber, with a key clamp scaffolding system supporting the wood from the floor to the ceiling. The effect is striking, and undeniably unique. It also makes the most of the bar’s room space, creating an area for larger groups to mingle without infringing on the intimacy of the banquette and booth seating. Five factory barstools line either side of the high table, with heavy duty steel tube bases and distressed leather on the front and back.
The bar area is tucked away at the rear of the venue, though it remains a focal point of the overall design. Perhaps most striking of all is the industrial mesh hanging gantry above the bar, which Byron explains is a unique way of maximising storage space while simultaneously providing a talking point for his customers. He’s not wrong – it’s another excellent example of the designers making the most of the limited space. Behind the bar sit two bespoke, branded beer barrels which dispense the bar’s rotating guest draught products. These are wired into The Crafter’s Barn’s cellar, creating the illusion that the beers are pouring directly from the barrels themselves.
Opposite the bar area, a private booth for two has been carved into the tiled walls, replacing a formerly redundant waiter’s station with an altogether more personal alternative. Simon Cameron from Surface ID told us, “It was basically a dead space, so we were looking to turn it into a unique seating area.” Blackboards line the walls above, detailing the latest guest draught and bottled beers on offer.
There is a small outdoor seating area to the side of the building, featuring upturned barrels from the Eden brewery which serve as quirky tabletops. Byron has ambitions to expand this area in the coming months, installing reclaimed timber plant pots to grow herbs for the kitchen, and permission is currently pending from the council for street seating at the front of the bar.