The New Institute in Hamburg is an experimental initiative aimed at developing social imaginaries for future societies.
We were invited to be part of the international team of architectural and interior specialists that would transform a row of 19th century houses, known as the Warburg Ensemble, into a space where fellows and their families can live and collaboratively work together.
Having worked with us on a private project, the client now sought our expertise and creative insight to create a home bar that would form the hub for social events taking place at the New Institute. We also created a remarkable kitchen.
The bar would be a space for serving refreshments, during the day and into the evening. Artichoke’s approach was needed to make the bar feel like it belonged there.
The result was a dignified and modern bar room that was welcoming and helped foster connections – an ideal space for mingling, where guests could come together without constraint.
The vision for the New Institute was to create a continuous space that ran through the row of buildings allowing guests to easily circulate. This involved knocking down walls to make open spaces – not an easy task in a cluster of historic buildings. The newly formed expanse showed the marks of its past, with many doors and entrances leading in different directions, and ceilings of varying heights that interrupted the order of the interiors. It was, in essence, a seemingly irregular collection of rooms that starkly contrasted with the organised and classical external facade.
Our task was to rationalise the newly created double room that was destined to become the bar and the central hub of the enterprise – the heart of the network of buildings.
The first challenge was clear: we had to make the bar appear as if it were an integral part of the room’s original design, rather than an afterthought. It needed to exude a deliberate intention, as though the entire space had been thoughtfully arranged to accommodate a dedicated bar area.
After careful consideration, we uncovered a remarkable opportunity to define a perfect square footprint for the bar, transforming it into a harmonious centrepiece.
This architectural design solution involved creating symmetrical openings that allowed us to extend the wall forward, effectively locking the furniture into the architecture itself.
The creation of a cube within the building gave us the chance to create a classical domed ceiling reminiscent of John Soane’s architectural style. The use of this feature enabled us to create an exquisitely proportioned home bar, optimizing circulation around the room whilst providing bartenders with plenty of space in which to work.
Together with a local plasterer, we explored the intricacies of cornices and ceiling details typical of the region’s architectural heritage, working to harmonize the space with the rest of the house.
The introduction of artisanal plasterwork was a visual delight, characterised by the Sonian double flush beads in the plasterwork – a detail continued on the bar furniture.
The original Warburg Ensemble houses were brimming with a mish-mash of neo-classical details that demanded a modern intervention, one that aligned with The New Institute’s humanistic philosophies. We had to find a delicate balance between the dignity of traditional classical architecture and the modern ambition of The New Institute to bring harmony without losing the character and atmosphere of the building’s original features.
For the bar, we found our inspiration in the continental style of the 1920s, notably the fabulous ‘Bar di Passo’ in Milan. This quirky and playful drinks counter helped to unlock our design vision, resulting in a minimal style that gave the impression of having been introduced to the building in the 1920s.
Being able to control the interior architecture brought harmony to every dimension including the perfectly proportioned square panes of glass in the mirrored cabinets. The precise mathematical planning of the room’s floor layout meant that other elements of the design feel grounded and considered.
To infuse an extra layer of modernity, we opted for a painted finish on the cabinets—uniform, matte colours protected by polishable lacquer. This unified the walls and the furniture, creating a seamless visual flow.
The result is a European-inspired bar that feels modern, with elements of rich timber and antiqued mirrors. The discreet beer and water taps and the versatility of pocket doors, effortlessly transform the space from a daytime café to a night-time bar.
We created a space that redefines the bar experience. It is informal and modern. It possesses a distinctive presence, much like the building, and yet it remains inviting. Our client’s dream of creating a setting where great minds can form unlikely alliances over a cup of coffee or a cocktail has been realised.