Intimate cocktail bar Bardem, led by Hans Välimäki and Arto Rastas, opened in central Helsinki in fall 2019. For the dim ambiance, inspiration has been drawn from the style of many different decades. Bardem was designed by Fyra, the award-winning Interior Architecture Agency of the Year 2020.
LOCATED IN THE HEART OF HELSINKI, BARDEM, with its dark walls, dim lighting and thick velvet curtains is reminiscent of a good old speakeasy – but in the elegant setting, it is easy to realize that you are actually surrounded by modern design. The multidimensional interior was created by the Helsinki-based design agency Fyra, which recently won the Interior Architecture Agency of the Year 2020 award.
“Restaurateurs Hans Välimäki and Arto Rastas wanted to create a totally new concept in Helsinki: a low-threshold place for everything from celebrations to drinks after work. Bardem is a continuation for our previous design of restaurant Penélope, and located in the same block, but the aim for Bardem was to create a strong, individually distinctive atmosphere,” says Laura Järvinen, interior designer at Fyra, who was the project manager for Bardem.
“At the beginning of the design, the restaurateurs pointed out certain Netflix series, which we used as sources for cinematic and stage design related features for the interior. From the word go, they had a strong vision of the feel they wanted for the place, but after that, they gave the designers free rein. One of the key wishes was that the bar counter should be well visible from the outside, and the atmosphere should be captivating,” Järvinen continues.
Contrasts meet in Bardem’s interior
Bardem is located on Yliopistonkatu street in Helsinki, around the corner from the restaurant Penélope. The two-story space, which used to be a store, was thoroughly refurbished during the project, and an illuminated bar counter was built in the middle to invite passers-by to pop in. Kallan & Co was responsible for creating the visual look for the project, and some of the furniture was acquired through Finnish Design Shop's Contract Sales.
“Bardem’s interior is a natural combination of the new and the old, and that gives the space a distinctive, relaxed feel. The recycled, reupholstered furniture and the curtains around the restaurant create an acoustically soft, intimate sound world. Then again, the illuminated, curved bar counter and the glazed wall tiles, arranged to create varying structures, make the look more intense,” says Järvinen.
The contrasts of the new and the old, the soft and the hard, make the space memorable and distinctive. These are a natural complement to Bardem’s spirit, where uncomplicated easiness and grandiose luxury meet.
“We succeeded in making Bardem a modern speakeasy, with the nuances of the 1980s firmly combined with contemporary vibes.”
“We succeeded in making Bardem a modern speakeasy, with the nuances of the 1980s firmly combined with contemporary vibes. The dried flower arrangements, made by the florist Inbloom and designed in cooperation with Fyra, play a big role in the whole. The space has a good, soft feeling and, most importantly, the drinks are great!” Järvinen summarizes.
The Interior Architecture Agency of the Year 2020 believes in collaboration
Fyra, founded in 2010, was appointed the Interior Architecture Agency of the Year 2020 by the Finnish Association of Interior Architects. Design Stories asked Interior Architect Eva-Marie Eriksson, co-founder of Fyra, to tell us more about the 10-year-old office.
Eva-Marie Eriksson, what does the award mean to Fyra, and what do you think made this prestigious recognition possible?
“We really appreciate this recognition! For the first time, it was awarded to an agency instead of an individual. Because Fyra strongly believes in working together in design, and collaborating with both the client and other designers, this felt special for us. We are extremely impressed by this, and it feels good when years of work results in recognition by colleagues. Perhaps the diversity of our projects, and our approach to them, combined with our ‘twinkle in the eye’ mentality, influenced the choice. We are grateful anyway!”
Fyra is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, congratulations! What is Fyra like as an agency today, compared to ten years ago?
“Thank you very much! When we started, we were four, and now we are almost twenty, which means that over the years, we have grown into one of the largest players in our industry in Finland. Also, the volume of our projects has grown. One of Fyra's first projects was a tiny office in a publishing company, and now we work with business premises for large, listed companies and big hotel projects. Our size makes it possible to design large-scale projects, although we still take on small ones as well – we are ambitious about every single one. Talented and dedicated people have joined our team, and they have contributed to the whole at Fyra.
Ten years ago, we wanted to start a company in which we would like to work ourselves, and this has not changed over the years. We are passionate about what we do, but we also know how to enjoy it!”
Text: Mira Ahola and Nora Uotila Images: Riikka Kantinkoski