'Lieben' bar/lounge space uses the door as a medium for guiding guests on an experiential journey

'Lieben' bar/lounge space uses the door as a medium for guiding guests on an experiential journey

8 Sep 2021 News

All Design Studio recently completed 'Lieben', a bar/lounge space on lively Julu Road in Shanghai, China that uses the door as a medium for guiding guests on an experiential journey to create a memorable and buzzworthy evening out.  Beyond drinks with friends, guests are guided on an immersive journey of music and wine.  And rather than a traditional marketing campaign, Lieben uses social media and word of mouth to invite guests on a treasure hunt to find the mysterious location and to enter into a new and dynamic world. 

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Located on the second floor of 758 Julu Road (a popular entertainment hub in a formerly historical district), the bar's exterior is covered by clear cement, offering a contemporary textural interpretation of the site's historical charm.  Further along this wall is a locked 'door' with a small window providing a peekaboo view of the activity within the bar beyond. This adds to the hidden treasure theme by suggesting a secret and exclusive destination, transitioning the visitor into the role of voyeur, inverting the relationship of outsider and insider.

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The real door and entrance to the bar is just in front of the fake door, hidden in plain sight. The old trapdoor entrance is still visible nearby, layering the site history into the design. 

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Lieben is the German word for 'love,' and the bar's name was inspired by German punk band Rammstein's track 'Was ich liebe', a song about the difficulties and sacrifices required for emotional connection. This theme again ties to the door/gateway metaphor of opening oneself up and allowing others in. By forcing patrons to notice the door beyond a simple entrance they become part of the experience of the space itself, crossing the threshold into a new and mysterious world. Beyond the experiential themes, the entire space expresses an industrial chic vibe. Minimalism design and bold elements are framed by soft lighting.

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Entering Lieben is like entering a secret headquarters. The rusted iron splicing and the concrete wall behind the door form a corridor. On the walls are a line of keys leading the gusts down the corridor and to the right into a lobby. The corridor is split in two, with the other side serving as the thoroughfare for Lieben's service staff, the 'insiders' separated spatially from the visitors. A gap in the wall allows the two groups to see one another to avoid collisions. As guests step into the lobby, the space suddenly opens up to reveal the bar.  

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Doors (some custom, some abstract, and some sourced from local flea markets) feature throughout the design. A deconstructed door frame is embedded in the ceiling, and the bar counter is overhung by suspended wooden beams which combine minimalism with the bar's industrial feel. 

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Underneath the bar counter, a row of eight deconstructed salvaged doors have been finished in concrete, juxtaposed with a black leather seating booth and fire burning wood board.  Circular stools and seats are contrasted with square tables and rectangular booths.  A wall lamp is in the shape of a cat's eyes, framed by rusty mirrors which both extend the space and diffuse the lamplight.  An other deconstructed door frame above and on the opposite side of the booth serves as an additional light source, and the wall here is made of another seven deconstructed concrete doors. Door hinges are used as decorative flourishes to further enhance the feeling of industrial Germany. All Design Studio explain:

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"We see the whole design is filled with rugged materials and clean lines, it embodies minimalism and German industrial style. The orange interior lighting and comfortable leather seats, while expressing broad and powerful feeling, it also reflects the delicate craftsmanship and soft lighting"

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Warm, copper and rust-hued sources of light are layered to create a variety of moods throughout the space.  The large light source from the deconstructed door is contrasted with the glimmer allowed through an antique keyhole. Indirect light from underneath the deck and bar reverse direction to come from below and add mystery and a hint of nefariousness. A third layer comes from panels of incandescent bulbs and  wall and floor lamps, one made of door hinge hardware. Finally, faint, almost hidden light emanates from the bar's outdoor terrace above the pendulum style space, which is finished in the same rusty iron cladding and cement as the interior. 

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The terrace is grazed by the mottled leaves of parasol trees on Julu Road, lending soft and natural energy to the facade. In the public outdoor corridor is a star-shaped art installation called 'Spotlight', inspired by Venus at dawn. The theme of secrecy and darkness is contrasted now against the night sky, implying the hopeful vitality and light of the new day. 

Yuuuun studio

The door elements are used throughout the concept to layer spaces and to guide the guests traversing them. Doors are disassembled, reorganized, repurposed and reframed to create surprising spatial dynamics that play between abstract and concrete, between real and imagined worlds.  Guests are taken on a journey, a secret mission of exploration, immersion, and rebirth, creating an experiential evening out which appeals to multiple senses and offers a unique and immersive experience to appeal to a modern generation seeking both to escape and to belong, to cross new thresholds but still find familiarity and community. 

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