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Design For The Arts

Design For The Arts

Design For The Arts

January 2024

EZ Living Interiors and Cork Opera House have completed the first phase of a collaboration which involves revamping the venue’s hospitality spaces. To date, the Blue Angel Bar and Main Bar have been transformed to emanate a balance of plush comfort, bold design elements and functionality with VIP suite, the Elbow Room scheduled for similar treatment.

Gavin White, Director, EZ Living Interiors, says, “when we were approached by Cork Opera House’s Partnerships and Development Manager, Laura Noonan about sponsoring their Half Moon Place Café’s mini-concert series last summer, we furnished the space with new chairs and bar stools which led to a conversation about a possible revamp of the bars. We’re often contacted by different companies looking to collaborate with us but as a company founded and headquartered in Cork and with the necessary products, knowledge and interior design skills, we really wanted to do it. We’re so proud to have teamed up with this iconic Cork performing arts venue in our 35th year of trading.”

Responding to a brief by Cork Opera House CEO, Eibhlín Gleeson to the EZ Living Interiors creative team, the bar areas have been reimagined in an up-to-date style with whimsy, subtle nods to the building’s mid-century modern design history.

“The Opera House was long overdue an overhaul and needed proper investment,” Eibhlín Gleeson explains. “People are delighted with it. It has elevated the building. The public feels it has ownership of the Opera House and they’re always delighted to see it being looked after. EZ Living have been great to work with. They really got onboard with my ideas. They are of Cork and we are of Cork so it was a symbiotic relationship.”

EZ Living Interiors Creative Manager, Emma Murphy, adds, “We approached the project with the sole purpose of giving the Opera House bar areas that did the building justice. It’s an iconic part of Cork city’s landscape and holds a special place in so many people’s hearts. We knew it needed a top to bottom revamp with fun, comfort and style in mind, delighting people with beautiful furniture and making them feel comfortable is our aim every day. It is very special to be able to do so for the patrons of Cork Opera House.”

Initially, EZ Living Interiors provided bar stools and chairs for Half Moon Place Café located in the venue’s entrance foyer where the public and arts community are encouraged to drop in for coffee, and enjoy surrounding art exhibitions in the space.

Working closely with the venue’s team, namely, Partnerships and Development Manager, Laura Noonan, Emma and Sarah produced 3-D virtual floor plans for the bars with various layout and furniture options for discussion, finalised in a choice which designed a variety of seating zones in the bars for Cork Opera House patrons to enjoy in comfort and style.

Positioned at the front of the building with floor-to-ceiling windows, the bars interact by day with the public plaza outside and riverside city views. By night, a concern for the venue was how the huge windows take on the look of black walls. Emma and Sarah addressed this by embracing the dark, turning alcoves into inviting snugs, and designing armchair and sofa groupings to facilitate conversation among patrons gathering for pre performance and interval refreshments.

Using a colour scheme that leans towards deep shades, walls received paint treatments including Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke. Warm hues, including saffron yellow, soft greens and pink in chair upholstery and metallic accents and biophilic design gave these open bar spaces intimacy and opulence with a sense of destination.

Adding wallpaper accents with a copper base, sculptural brass feature lighting to mitigate the glare of overhead lights and rich tan leather sofas and bar stools, give comfort and style with a wine-bar vibe in the Main Bar, while upstairs the Blue Angel Bar’s organic-form blue velvet banquette seating was accented with tan leather bistro chairs, soft pops of pink upholstery and relaxing arm chairs. Design enthusiasts will notice how the venue’s 1960s build is referenced subtly by a contemporary application of mid-century modern classic furniture features, with trending heritage paint colours, especially Green Smoke – a popular shade in the late 19th century  hinting at the old Victorian Cork Opera House which stood on the same site.