I had the amazing opportunity to visit Barcelona a couple months ago with my family. It was my first time in Spain and I greatly appreciated the culture, the food, and the spectacular architecture of Antonio Gaudi. As we walked the streets on our way to the Casa Milà, a chance turn of the head drew us to a new destination, a most beautifully illuminated establishment, whose interior whisked me away into a new world. Or rather an old one.
It is a wonderful infusion of early 21st century industry, 1920’s gentleman’s lounge, and modern sleekness. Every opportunity for character and texture is taken advantage of, and cohesively done. Upon entering you walk a long hall lined with tables and cushioned leather seats, and all of the lighting incorporates warm Edison bulbs anchored by metal pipes and hardware. Then above are these beautiful chandeliers that look like they were built from factory machines or car grills. They make great use of accent lighting by highlighting different beers with back lit signs and huge cases of bottles illuminated with under cabinet lighting. The perfect highlight of their products. Overall, the space uses ambient, task, and accent lighting very well.
You could tell from walking through the space that this brewery took pride not only in its beer (which was really good), but also in its presentation. There is an expression of comfort and inclusion to the space. I have been to several breweries in the northwest and I noticed that some (a minority for sure) can feel a bit sparse and empty. It seems as though the functionality of the beer processing, like having ample space for the tanks and equipment, is the main focus and then providing sufficient seating for visitors is the second. Now there isn’t anything wrong with that. As a brewery, it makes sense to focus on the beer and its quality. Yet the experience of drinking that beer in an exciting, well designed atmosphere incites people to enjoy the product even more and encourages them to return.
I wish I could share my own images of the design. Sadly my phone was stolen a couple days later and I missed my opportunity to save my photos to another source (I intend to share more sad details in a future post). So here I’ve pulled from google so you can see.
A particularly impressive part of the brewery is their restroom. I have a strange fascination with commercial restroom design. For a space that it used more sparingly than other parts of a restaurant, its aesthetics would not be deemed as important as say the dining area or entry. But a well-designed and interesting restroom plays an essential role to the entire establishment. This one was very interesting.
It is a stark contrast from the warmth of the rest of the brewery. You enter into the room using a modern barn style door that slides smoothly and silently. All of the walls and ceiling are aluminum with no other ornamentation apart from the essential and very modern toilet, sink and mirror. It is unexpected, I remember assuming that the warm dark palette of the leather and wood would continue into the restrooms. Instead I was woken by the minimalism of the space. It does have a slightly sterile and a-bit-too-enclosed feel, but in a way that is almost a perfect representation of their craft. I was in a beer tank. I was the beer! I am stretching that into a slightly uncomfortable image, but I find inspiration behind the design concept.
The way I’ve looked at interior design is as the quiet (or loud) presence of character and expression of its inhabitants. Good design will reflect the needs of its users by implementing features that reflect their lifestyle and are mindful of good function. It’s a beautiful thing to witness good design because we all inhabit places in some respect, whether it is to eat, sleep, interact, or work. So to then live out those things while in an environment that encourages and is conducive to our needs makes for such a more valuable experience.
I believe Napar has achieved that. I wish I could have had the chance to ask the owner what his inspiration was behind the design of the space. I’m just going to have to go back to Barcelona and ask him. Napar will definitely be one of my first stops.