For IDS Toronto 2023, we had the opportunity to design The Secret Bar by LIV Design Studio. Conceptualized as an adaptable, multi-use space, The Secret Bar was at once a space for relaxing, catching up with friends, and working & collaborating with colleagues.
In this instalment of our Design Deconstructed series, we'll be breaking down our process for designing The Secret Bar from ideation to execution, as well as our designers' inspiration for this multifaceted project.
The theme of IDS Toronto 2023 was "Moving Parts" – an astute encapsulation of the many intertwined challenges facing the interior design industry and our creative, quick-witted responses to them.
LIV Design Studio has always existed at the intersection of our own moving parts: TECH/DESIGN/CULTURE. By incorporating these three principles at every stage of our design process, we're able to achieve timeless designs that are elegant yet functional.
Embracing the commonalities between our guiding philosophies and this year's IDS theme, our interior designers created distinct thematic spaces within the bar for Tech, Design, and Culture. These 'moving parts' were represented by full-length mirrors emblazoned with one of these three key words and a brief definition of each. Our purpose behind this creative decision was to enable visitors to The Secret Bar to not only comprehend the intertwined nature of these concepts, but to see themselves as integral Moving Parts of the interior design industry at large.
At the centre of the Secret Bar lies the Culture Sphere – an area dedicated to facilitating open, uninhibited conversations between friends, colleagues and complete strangers alike. Unlike what one would expect from a traditional bar, this area was made to simultaneously accommodate everything from quiet study to business lunches and phone calls with clients.
Upon entering the Cultural Sphere, guests are informed by custom signage that “This is where you connect.” Furniture and design elements were carefully chosen to break the inherent barriers of networking, instead allowing for free-flowing discussions and connection over a shared passion for design. Rounded chairs and sumptuous low couches lent an informal feel to the elegant space, arranged in circular fashion to encourage open engagement with friends and fellow attendees alike.
Technology is another cornerstone of LIV Design Studio's TECH/DESIGN/CULTURE ethos and was integral to executing The Secret Bar within such a limited timeframe. In the weeks leading up to the event, our interior designers carefully planned each aspect of the space, positioning each piece of furniture within the exhibition space using advance floorplans and spacial planning.
To represent this emphasis on innovation, matte metallic elements symbolizing progress and technological advancement were positioned adjacent to the 'TECH' mirror to contrast with the more refined styles in other areas. Nearby, visitors could find taller desks for catching up on work with a laptop or sending off a quick email from their phones.
From the earliest stages, interior designers Rondo Leung and Dickson Chu envisioned The Secret Bar as a flexible space for IDS Toronto 2023 guests to unwind, relax, work, and most importantly – connect with one another. In keeping with the 'Moving Parts' theme, LIV Design Studio recognized that despite our complex, ever-evolving world, one thing remains constant: our connection to one another.
Each item was thus selected to enhance this spirit of open connection. Relaxed pieces like lounge chairs and sofas from Tribù and ottomans, stools, side tables and chairs from Sundays Furniture conjured the warm atmosphere of a friend's living room – elevated to fit the feel of the event. To help create clear, distinct spaces that embodied each of LIV Design Studio's moving parts, pieces like a light wooden sideboard and screens, also from Sundays Furniture, naturally directed visitors through the space. The space was completed with the addition of other pieces from Avenue Road, lighting & fixtures from Robinson Lighting, and carpet tiles from Interface.
This innovative project was an opportunity for LIV Design Studio to better understand the moving parts that constitute our own approach to design, and to explore new ways to represent TECH/DESIGN/CULTURE in their tangible forms. We’re grateful for the opportunity to once again present our work in front of Canada’s interior design industry and look forward to our next collaboration with IDS.