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Highly flexible metal facade by Vicwest adds an Art Deco flair to a restaurant bar

In restaurant design, the predominant trend has leaned towards an industrial look – neutral palettes and materials largely because it makes use of the building’s exposed pipes, beams and other attributes. But for The Alley, a Stratford-Ontario-based restaurant, designer Emily Wunder envisioned creating a wow factor that stood the test of time.

“With restaurant design, I want to be blown away the moment I walk in,” says Wunder. “The last thing you want to see is a sea of tables.”  

Wunder took inspiration from the fact that The Alley brewed its own beer that would be served on tap. “I repositioned the bar from the back of the restaurant so that it could be the focal point from the moment you walked into the space.”

Wunder’s Art Deco-based design concept had a timeless yet swanky feel that created a sense of warmth through colour, geometry and lighting. She envisioned the bar front as a deep, rich, maroon burgundy to stand out while also complimenting the shiny counter and ceiling surfaces. 

“At first, I was thinking wood fluting. But I was concerned it wouldn’t hold up because people who sit at the bar will ultimately kick at it.  So it needed to be durable, it needed to be wipeable, but it also needed to hold its color.”

Enter in Vicwest ⅞ corrugated metal. In brainstorming with the contractors, Wunder was suddenly hit with the idea that corrugated metal could be the ideal solution. “My contractor said well, we have to go to Vicwest. They’re just the supplier we need.”

“They had all sorts of powder-coated finishes, so we looked at the color swatches, and I chose this really beautiful burgundy color.” 

For Wunder, the flexibility of corrugated metal as a substrate offered another advantage – it allowed Wunder to build a curved bar front instead of a square front with a hard edge. 

“Once you’re in the space, the curvature of the bar acts as a method of wayfinding flowing out to the larger restaurant at the back. The corrugated metal was so flexible that we could wrap around the front of the bar in any shape we wanted.”

Under-counter lighting added the finishing touch. “Because of the saturation of the color, as well as the way it’s corrugated, the light really highlights the metal front. Which I think is great because it even adds another dimension to the bar. I wanted to add in as many textures, colors and finishes as I possibly could.”