How to design the Experimental Cocktail Club in the city of Venice

Experimental Cocktail Club in the Hotel Il Palazzo Experimental in Venice. photo: ©Karel Balas

Cristina Celestino is a great collector of Italian design masterpieces which makes her constantly looking and observing objects and things that add to her knowledge of design and architectural projects. She is known for her many international design awards and the Salone del Mobile award in 2016. Ever since her Design Studio Attico Design in Milan is working constantly on new projects. Her latest one is the Experimental Cocktail Club in the Hotel Il Palazzo Experimental in Venice. We had a chat with her about the inspiration of the city and which challenges she came across when designing a bar in Venice.

Cristina Celestino

The IRMA: What is the idea behind the Experimental Cocktail Club?
The Experimental Cocktail Club wants to be not only part of the hotel Il Palazzo Experimental, but also and above all open to the city of Venice.

In fact the main entrance stands into the context of the Fondamenta delle Zattere, overlooking the Giudecca Canal. The interior project is a sort of homage to Venice, to its history and to its renowned culture.


IRMA: Which elements did you use in your interior design that underlined that concept?
The project is a mix of references ranging from Palladio (mirrors with thermal shape, recalling the Serlianes), to Carlo Scarpa (wall panels in Marmorino framed by black metallic profiles), to the use of other Venetian references: e.g. polychrome marbles (on the counter top), antiqued mirrors, torchon (rope mouldings) that is a decorative element on many historic buildings of Venice, also present on the original doors of this palace. I have used the torchon declined in different materials: in glass for the frame of the big wall mirrors, recalling the old Venini mirrors by Scarpa, and in lacquered wood for the frame of back-bar furniture.

The atmosphere recalls Venetian café like the historic Harry’s bar: I tried to revoke a refined male allure (that you can see in particular in the inlaid regimental carpet on the floor and in the coffee tables of a cufflinks inspiration).

The juxtaposition of colours and materials refers to the idea of stratification, a theme very important to Venice: a multitude of interventions from all ages, materials and colours that create a unique harmony, that in the end results to work successfully as a single project (or at least this was what I was looking for to recreate.

Experimental Cocktail Club

IRMA: Which interior design features make a bar special , give it a certain cosyness?
: I think to many different factors: from colours to materials. Lighting is always one of the most important thing to think when you design an interior. Designing a cocktail bar, of course the counter is a core element of this interior, and needs a lot of thoughts: must have a number of technical requirements and in the same time it shall allow the barman to create a visual contact with the clients.


IRMA: Your colors seem alway right, matching the interior and light of a space, how do you come up with a colour pattern?
CRISTINA CELESTINO: It is always the biggest challenge, also because I like to play with unexpected combinations. In the studio we work a lot with material samples, through renderings and visualisations we try to obtain the optimal final result. But only on the construction site, you can finally realise if everything match. It has always worked very well, so far! 😉


IRMA: The drink you recommend to order?
: I would recommend the “Arcipelago” , with Prosecco, yellow melon syrup, lemon juice and sumac.


IRMA: Please tell us a view challenges when renovating & building a space in Venice.
: The city of Venice offers lots of ideas and suggestions, and in this sense is a perfect design opportunity. Concerning the challenges I would say that the most complicated part thing is the management of the site, as well as the logistics – all the transportation of materials and furniture is quite a thing in a city like Venice.

But in the end the final result of all Il Palazzo Experimental (interior project by Dorothée Meilichzon) shows that the difficulties sharpen the creativity 😉