Taste the Rainbow

Color Light Interior Style

Smash Design animates Manray, a Seattle restaurant and bar, with colored light and the flicker of multiple video screens.

A color light restaurant/ bar design where colorful furniture and chairs are also used
A color light restaurant/ bar design where colorful furniture and chairs are also used

LOCATED IN THE Pike-Pine corridor, an up-and-coming area of downtown Seattle, Manray is a gay bar, restaurant, and video lounge conceived by Smash Design. The 2,000-sq.-ft. space occupies an existing single-story building with a boomerang roof overhang and glass storefront. The designers opted, in this still transitional neighborhood, to screen the interior from the street with an outdoor patio and television-shaped steel panels.

Colored light and video imagery animate the interior. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner and, around 9:00 p.m., gives way to a bar as tables and chairs are moved. To accommodate these various transitions, Smash ran concealed strands of rope lighting with red, yellow, blue, and white bulbs to produce a wide spectrum of available colors. Hidden behind the ceiling and wall panels, the lights create a tinted glow that can change quickly or gradually as desired. The light might go blue for three hours and subtly shift to green, or it can move through many colors quickly, in any sequence, to create the desired ambience.

Color light imagine interior has became a trend
Color light imagine interior has became a trend

How the interior style works

In counterpoint to this contemporary field of moving color and light, Smash opted for a more traditional figure/ground plan by locating a large, oval-shaped bar at the center of the room. According to Smash co-principal Harper Welch (the other is Marc Clements), “We felt strongly that the bar should provide a visual focus and create a circulation pattern that works throughout the day.” The sheet metal overbar provides a distribution point for ventilation, downlighting, and ten video monitors. Eight additional monitors were set into the back wall–an aluminum Formica surface that gives access to the DJ mixing booth and service areas–and a large video projection screen drops down near the front window. “The idea was to really integrate video into the space,” says Welch, “and to let it have a lot of presence.”

The ceiling and walls were finished with floating, ultra-white Formica panels that provide ’60s-retro glamour and reflect the play of moving light and color. “It was a challenge to make an all-white room relaxing,” says Welch. The blue floor, made of vinyl composition tile, tones down the white while also addressing maintenance issues; during the day, when the colored light is less dramatic, it also provides a strong visual contrast to the other surfaces.

This special interior style is used with special design of reclining chairs, tables, and other furniture which can change colors
This special interior style is used with special design of reclining chairs, tables, and other furniture which can change colors

Manray was designed to bring a certain kind of cosmopolitan chic to Seattle nightlife. According to Welch, “The whole Seattle bar scene is really unvaried. Wherever you go, nothing feels very modem, big-city or glamorous. There aren’t many places you want to wear nice shoes.” With the arrival of Manray, however, Seattle can now compete with any number of metropolitan centers that enjoy a bit of nostalgia for the future with cocktails.

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