In the former home of the world-renowned restaurant noma, acclaimed chef and restaurateur Thorsten Schmidt in partnership with chef René Redzepi and Snøhetta have conceived a fresh approach to the iconic space. Snøhetta designed the interiors and new graphic identity for Barr, which opened its doors on July 5 on Copenhagen’s waterfront.
Located in North Atlantic House (Nordatlantens Brygge), Barr is a casual restaurant focused not only on the Nordics, but also on the broader food and drink traditions found in the region along the North Sea; an area that spans Scandinavia, Germany, Benelux and British Isles. The restaurant’s name (Barr: meaning “barley” in old Norse), reflects Schmidt’s fascination with the region’s food and drink history and culture. Classic dishes such as frikadeller (Danish meatballs), schnitzel and hot-smoked salmon will be offered alongside a large selection of craft beers and aquavits.
The collaboration with Snøhetta began during a workshop, giving life to Barr’s design concept and philosophy. The concept of “gestalt,” meaning an organized whole that transcends the smaller constituent parts from which it is built, informed the overall concept of the design. To this end, Snøhetta looked to microscopic studies of foods and beer from the region, which influenced everything from the color palette to the furniture.
Throughout the restaurant, the design is driven by a strong duality and juxtaposition of the old and the new. When entering the restaurant, guests are met with a warm oak floor, contrasting with the rough texture of the original stone walls. A massive, carved wooden counter stretching from one room to the other anchors the space. The ceiling is alternately composed of the original ceiling beams and new, sculpted wooden planks, which are embedded with brass details that reflect micro spots of light. Raw materials - wood, leather and wool - evoke the restaurant’s Northern influence.
In addition to designing the interiors, Snøhetta also designed the branding and visual identity for Barr. Having researched the typographical heritage of the North Sea region, Snøhetta has also developed a unique typeface called Barr Gräbenbach. Shaped by the convergence of traditional handcraft and mechanical production, the typeface creates a bold yet refined expression. It is complemented by a color palette that references the natural seasons, honest and direct imagery, and a selection of paper qualities and embossing of patterns.
Local techniques and locally sourced materials played an essential part in the restaurant’s design. Most of the oak used for furniture and interior was harvested from trees grown less than fifty kilometres from Barr’s doorstep. The restaurant’s furniture was created by Malte Gormsen using traditional Danish craftsmanship and carpentry. The bar counters are CNC-milled oak. The relief pattern of the ceiling and wall panels are inspired by the microscopic view of barley, one of the three main ingredients in beer making.
“Designing within the context of a listed building meant that we needed to understand the space carefully,” commented Peter Girgis, Senior Interior Architect, Snøhetta. “Reflecting Thorsten’s overarching vision for Barr, we believe we have created a feeling of formal informality. Together we have created new components, including custom furniture and cabinetry, which enhance Barr’s identity and philosophy, while at the same time providing a connection to the original noma space.”