Alberto Caiola designed The Flask Speakeasy Shanghai hiding its access behind a vintage Coca-Cola machine.
“Flask and The Press is an unconventional duo that upends the traditional speakeasy concept: an intimate contemporary lounge concealed behind the facade of a cheery, sandwich shop. Together, they’re a juxtaposition of light and dark, elegance and funkyness, personal and playful.
Aiming to launch a speakeasy in the heart of Shanghai’s former French Concession, renown mixologists & their passionate partners commissioned the development of the concept, location scouting and its space design.
Considering that Shanghai has already seen its fair share of hidden speakeasy-themed bars and lounges we decided to build suspense and break it in an entirely unexpected fashion. In order to maximise impact, we would need to execute the project in a fundamentally different, distinct way, building expectations and genuine surprise by creating contradictory, anachronistic aesthetics.
As a result, we created The Press, a colourful sandwich shop. At first glance, The traditional diner setting of The Press looks immediately familiar to passerby, but a number of edgier, more contemporary details call for a second look: the smooth, finished countertops in colourful shades, neon lighting strips and polished minimalism of the furnishings set against unfinished walls, rough concrete walls and floors, plus a dramatic, asymmetrical drop ceiling create an unconventional scene that inspires curiosity in the space. The centrepiece of the room is a vintage Coca-Cola vending machine, which is split vertically to swing open and reveal the entrance to Flask.
Stepping into the tunnel between The Press and Flask, the visitor experiences an extreme contrast in environment. The fun, lighthearted feel, the bright colours and lighting—within a few steps, these elements segue into a mysterious space with warm, muted lighting and the murmurs of bar patrons to invite further curiosity. Following the camouflage door, the patron is presented with more visual cues of the traditional speakeasy: elaborate displays of bottles of liquor, a blend of dark and dim, plus a motley crew of furniture pieces that hints at the evanescence of these establishments as they were in the past.” Alberto Caiola