Built for speed
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 1/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
New York's Bar Veloce may be a restful spot to mellow out with a prosciutto panino, but the vibe is as much about speeding up as slowing down. Which should come as no surprise: Veloce translates as speedy. "Its design balances an epicurean sense of being in the moment with the Italian futurist concept of zooming forward," explains AC2 Studio partner Anthony Caradonna, who oversaw the project with partner Anita Cooney.
Conceived as a roadside pit stop, Bar Veloce inhabits the spiritual intersection of Italy's ancient Via Appia and the modern autostrada. The space is 70 feet long but only 9 feet wide, about the width of a highway lane. The bar's counter of laminated end-grain birch plywood extends the metaphor, with inset strips of walnut recalling the dashed lines of lane dividers.
A repurposed guardrail forms a 60-foot-long sconce, while galvanized-metal shields on heating pipes mimic mufflers. "We like to reinvent materials through a simple turn of the familiar," explains Caradonna. Vinyl covering the rear wall is actually a floor runner.
Such sleights of hand yield maximum results despite the significant spatial and monetary constraints at Bar Veloce. "We embraced multiplicity, single elements performing numerous functions," says Caradonna. Accordingly, the wine-rack system acts as a decorative element and a light fixture in addition to handling storage and display for 1,045 bottles, which are suspended horizontally against a plane of backlit acrylic.
The wine rack's succession of 40 steel columns evokes the syncopated repetition of milestones along a highway; their verticality calls to mind Roman colonnades. As Caradonna sees it, the system marries wine's worldly qualities and a sense of weightlessness: "Our work centers on making minimal material interventions to counter invisible forces such as gravity." At Bar Veloce, it doesn't require an advanced physics degree to determine the mathematical relationship between gravity and velocity—just an appreciation of full-bodied Barolos.