While these are 7 of my favorite spots overseas, I’m not claiming to have been to these places, they are my favorites because the first chance I get, I hope to play at all of these venues within the next few years. So let’s get started…
The Tazmania Ballroom – Hong Kong.
Tom Dixon’s career has taken him from discovering the idea for the S-bend chair while welding motorcycle parts, to being one of the hottest designers of lighting, furniture and interiors, and to occupying the chair of Creative Director at the venerable Finnish Artek. Dixon’s latest showpiece, Tazmania Ballroom in Hong Kong, opened recently in the Central District (Lan Kwai Fong) where more than 100 bars, restaurants and entertainment venues attract people from around the world. Tazmania’s owner is Hong Kong entertainment entrepreneur Gilbert Yeung Kei-lung. With his British boarding school and Canadian college upbringing, he wanted a British private-club atmosphere, but without the stuffiness. He tapped Dixon’s Design Research Studio and head of design Helen Arvanitakis who employed refined James Bondish snobbery with its retro high-tech and combined it with a confident, cool club atmosphere. The result is an exclusive and glamorous mix of a pool hall/private club/dance club/night club. Golden pool tables are magically lifted to the ceiling making room for one of Hong Kong’s largest dance floors where DJs keep the carefully screened guests hopping with the latest Funktion One sound system. The British street culture is emphasized with the staffers attire: they wear Doc Martens and Fred Perry. Dixon’s own pieces decorate the opulent space including the Cone, Pipe and Copper Shade lights and the Offcut Stool. Gilbert Yeung is also the founder of the Dragon-I bar and restaurant, Busy Suzie and Brother & Sister store and cafe. He is the son of Albert Yeung Sau-Shing, Hong Kong entertainment tycoon and chairman of the media conglomerate Emperor Entertainment Group.
L’Arc – Paris.
L’Arc Paris, Restaurant-Bar & Club, has been open for four months and at least the Club has already become the place where you go if you want to be with the chic, the famous and the beautiful. Mostly, you go there to be seen. Last month, one of the must-see occasions at the Club was the Chloé Van Paris’s Fashion Burlesque Ball, a masquerade where the dress code, according to the Club’s Facebook page. Party – Club Party was “13 cm heels, nylon, glamorous stockings, retro, pine-up, dandy, sexy, smart and glamorous.” At the Restaurant, chef Antony Germani (of L’Atelier Joël Robuchon) presides over menus of seasonal everything-made-from-scratch delicacies. L’Arc occupies the former premises of l’Etoile Nightclub at 12 rue de Presbourg, with views of Arc de Triomphe but it was completely redesigned by Cannes-based Prospect Design. Prospect was established in 1996 by Samy Chams (and expanded into Dubai in 2005) whose night-club design work includes VIP Room in St Tropez, Baili in Cannes, and Maddox and Movida in London.
Blue Frog Lounge – Mumbai.
Everybody is going crazy about Mumbai’s Blue Frog, opened earlier this year. It’s a 1,000-square-meter complex that includes a club, restaurant, lounge, sound stage, recording studio and sound lab, all encased within the massive walls of an old warehouse in Mumbai’s mill district. The Blue Frog Club interior may remind you of those delirious nights at the end-of-summer Exhibition with its midway games, roller coasters and dizzy-making rides. Or you may suddenly start channeling Queen Amidala, addressing the StarWarsian Senate from her floating pod. Luckily, Blue Frog does its dizzying job in a way that is totally stylish – not a tacky thing or overdone costume in sight. And everyone’s table is definitely on level ground, although it does not appear so first. Designers Chris Lee and Kapil Gupta formerly of Chris Lee Architects and Contemporary Urban, and now of Serie (London and Mumbai) have managed to create a cohesive yet exciting space by stripping the visual cues down to an only a few very strong ones. The equilibrium-challenging effect is achieved by the clever surround-millwork that uses a circle as its main form. The mahogany-paneled millwork circles each round table, forming circular booths or pods in somewhat varying shapes at various levels, guaranteeing great sightlines for all. Not wanting to compete with the lighting or other embellishments of the stage acts, the interior is dark except for the top surface of the booths. The glowing back-lit resin surfaces tie the seating area together even when a stage show is on, and make it a bit easier to gain one’s bearings in the otherwise dark space. Like seating in a Roman amphitheatre, the pods circle and rise from a stage area that can also double as standing room or dance floor in a club set-up. Acts from India and from around the world are starting to make Blue Frog Mumbai’s hottest club.
The New Heineken Experience – Amsterdam.
For years now we’ve been hitting the pub with our mates – ordering pint upon pint of beer – and although many of us have a preference for a local brew or a dark malt or an amber, plenty of us have been quite happy ordering the old fallback, a green-necked Heine – and almost everywhere we go, from the smallest desert roadside watering holes to the cosmopolitan lounges and clubs, we can almost be certain Heineken will be available. So how does a brand, which is recognised worldwide, re-engage its consumers and reinvent its story? The US-based BRC Imagination Arts, one of the world’s leaders in experiential marketing, has developed the New Heineken Experience – an interactive journey through the history of the brand and the brewing process. The experience is housed in the former Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam. Visitors to the restored brewery push their senses to the extreme as they see, smell, touch and taste everything that goes into the production – brewing and bottling Heineken beer. A special effects ride allows visitors to immerse themselves into the entire process from conception to completion with interactive exhibits as well as interpretive graphics. With the New Heineken Experience, the company hopes to develop renewed, enduring and personal connections with those of us who uh… always loved Heineken.
Paramount Bar – London.
Once again, Tom Dixon is behind Paramount, London’s hottest new venue located on top of city landmark Centre Point tower. The bar’s aesthetic is a blend 60s retro and futurism, articulated through the use of hard-edged materials like concrete and stone to create a kind of space-ship meets super-club. The star of course, is the spectacular view, which is only enhanced by Dixon’s clean, modern interior. Anyone hoping to pay a visit to Paramount better get to work on their “applications” for membership, a process which, rather frightfully, mirrors a job application. Aspiring members must be “assed” by a panel including English actor Stephen Fry. Lets see if we can get DJ Storm behind the tables in the spot “Mr. Rovelli”.
ChinaDoll Club – Beijing
Clubbers and night cats in Beijing not only shake their booties to the hottest beats at the new ChinaDoll club, they are also surrounded by work from some of China’s best contemporary artists. Founded by award-winning Chinese actress/producer Ai Wan and club designer Wu Ying, ChinaDoll was conceived and designed via their studio E.P.I.C. Design where the original club first opened in Beijing at the end of 2006. Relocated now to the main strip in Sanlitun, the new club is prominently located on the top floor of the ’3.3′ plaza building. The good news for party-goers is that this venue is three times bigger, comprising a lounge, dancefloor and eight VIP rooms. With their motto The Art of Play’, the interior of ChinaDoll takes art out of the gallery and into the club. The overall theme of the interior revolves around ‘The Kiss’ with passion and sensuality taking centre stage. The work of six contemporary chinese artists is integrated into the interior, custom-made installations and furniture, depicting for example sexy female forms, Chinese dolls or modern Chinese love lives. A glossy backdrop of lightboxes adorned with abstracted fashion photography references the brush strokes and vivid colours of chinese water colours. When illuminated, it creates an electric atmosphere making ChinaDoll a lolly shop for the eyes and an amusement park for the senses.
SOUND Nightclub – Phuket.
The night scene in Phuket, Thailand, changed permanently last fall, when SOUND opened. The launch night audience included the who-is-who of local and international jetset elite, and the vibes have only improved since. Located on the third floor of the Jungceylon shopping and entertainment complex in the Patong resort, SOUND can accommodate an impressive 700 clubbers. It is part of the stable of upscale boutique hotels, destination restaurants, clubs and bars conceptualized and operated by the Bed Management Company, the group behind the popular Bed Supperclub in Bangkok that opened seven years ago. SOUND’s design theme, realized by Orbit Design Studio (Bangkok, London and Tokyo) in association with Bed Supper Club, is the human ear in all of its super-human awesomeness, so everything in the interior is rounded, curved and tubular. While mimicking the human body, the SOUND environment with its intense audio and visual effects offers a surreal, out-of-body sci-fi experience.The walls and décor contribute integrally to creating a superior acoustics and audio environment. The fantastic lighting, designed by Inverse (London and Bangkok) uses the latest club lighting technology. One of the central attractions is the bar lit by a stunning 19-meter graphic equalizer LED screen that is synchronized to the music that ranges from electronic music, hip-hop and R n’ B to house depending on who’s spinning. So let’s go Sarah… Hook it up.