Design Focus: Smokin’ Fox

April 13th, 2017 | Posted in: Editors' Picks,Features

The location of the Smokin’ Fox near Glasgow’s Central Station – now seemingly known as Glasgow’s financial district – is Signature Pubs’ latest opening in the city. It has the benefit of floor-to-ceiling windows at its front which makes the entry to the pub that was The Hope very pleasant on a dreary wet Glasgow day.

Signature bought the pub last year, from The Thistle Pub Co.

The pub group ran it for a few months before closing for a refurbishment and rebrand. Now re-christened as the Smokin’ Fox, it has the ambience of a ‘gentleman’s club’, with leather Chesterfield-inspired furniture mixed with burnished copper and steel wrapped mirrors, a nice distraction from the contradicting spring weather.

The bar dominates three-quarters of the venue, but is placed centrally, and is encased in copper with brass sash decoration. A cuff of black, studded leather rims the dark wood bar top, which is also edged with an ornate carved panel.

To the front of the pub, there are three windows that bathe the front part in light – two on the left of the door and one on the left. They are partnered with ornate, crocheted white lampshades. The use of two huge shades and a smaller one – as well as the colour – ensures that they don’t overpower the room. The lighting appears to be very important to the design of the Smokin’ Fox. Aside from the crochet work, there are two chandeliers that appear to be made from copper piping, three strips of wired ship lamps also hang over the bar – a touch that is replicated throughout the bar and dining room.

Signature Pubs has used the existing layout of The Hope to make, what was an industrial, anonymous space, into a comfortable bar cum ‘scullery’. Scullery obviously refers to the open kitchen located at the back of the pub, but the use of sand-worn wood for the tables mixed with an array of eclectic dining chairs, makes it feel like someone’s kitchen.

However, where The Hope had tried to conjoin the three supporting pillars with a table top, Signature has embraced the pillars and created three individual booth-style tables for customers. This area is marked out – a pleasant overhang from The Hope days – with colourful floor tiles. Butterscotch coloured, studded leather Chesterfield-inspired bucket bar stools are huddled around each table – a stark contrast to The Hope’s original steel barstools.

Opposite the pillars – where there were three stand-alone tables – two comfortable, leather covered booths have been created. Areas of the window to the right of these booths have been reworked with two Chesterfield-inspired sofas backing onto the windows. The sofas are covered predominantly in the same butterscotch leather, but the seating area is covered in tweed, making a nice contrast. Two wing-tipped Chesterfield chairs and moss-green pouffes circle two small, circular, silver topped tables. Both windows on this side and the other are flanked with floor-length silver-grey drapes.

At the side of the bar, there is a posing table which seat six, matched with six butterscotch backed stools. Meanwhile, a panel of 15 burnished steel-rimmed mirror tiles bounces the light into the centre of the room. Another use of mirrors has been adopted behind the gantry. Brickwork mirror tiles line the wall behind the stainless steel shelving that houses the glasses and bottles.

There are no optics in The Smokin’ Fox, so the sparkling bottles bounce off the mirrors. The juxtaposition of the clean, sleek lines of the steel works with the muted blue of the supporting pillars that make up the back wall of the gantry. All six supporting pillars in the main bar are crowned with gold cornicing.

A mini-sweeping staircase takes you to what is obviously their much-publicised ‘The Den’. Matched with a curtain in the same fabric as the windows, it’s obvious that this is intended to be a private function room.

A posing picnic style table is placed at the top of the stair, which leads into the biggest space in the Smokin’ Fox. Signature’s use of booths is apparent here too. What were originally stand-alone tables at the top of the stair have been transformed into a cosy booth that would sit around 8/10 people. Another copper-framed mirror is used to bounce the light which comes from an unlikely source of a skylight and also a strip of the ship lighting that is used above the bar. The ceiling in The Smokin’ Fox is something to behold. A huge skylight bathes the raised dining area in light during the day, while at night, lighting bouncing off angled mirrors highlights the Botticelli-esque frescos that frame the skylight. The walls around the tables that were bare before, now hang with pop-art inspired by Lichtenstein and Warhol but showing images such as a pig, a fox and a stag beetle.

This area has a scattering of small square silver covered tables, with a mixture of metal framed dining chairs and leather-clad dining chairs in beige and the ubiquitous butterscotch leather. Two four-seater wooden tables flank the division between this and a raised section that comprises of an L-shaped banquette. Covered in toffee coloured leather – but this time paired with the dark leather bar back dining chairs – this area is matched with two-seater tables covered in matte silver covering.

The Smokin’ Fox has a unique quirk about it. Oddities such as knick-knacks on the top shelf of the gantry such as a (fake) bonsai, a dancing bear model and a plaster fox model mean that every time you go you’ll notice something different. The ubiquitous pineapple – the symbol of hospitality – also makes an appearance. However, the stand-alone quirky touch has to be the mirrors in the ladies toilets. In keeping with the self-styled, bon vivant character of the Smokin’ Fox, they are styled on a pocket-watch. The Smokin’ Fox certainly knows how to burrow into the detail and hope doesn’t need to come into its success. The Smokin’ Fox is at 6-8 Waterloo St, Glasgow G2 6DA.

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Mairi Clark

Mairi Clark

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