White-Hot Design - Design Bureau

Rhumbar by Alvarez + Brock Design

Rhumbar by Alvarez + Brock Design

Rhumbar by Alvarez + Brock Design

Rhumbar by Alvarez + Brock Design

White-Hot Design

Friday, March 18th, 2011

According to Rafael Alvarez and Brannen Brock, partners at architecture firm Alvarez+Brock Design, the concept behind  their design for Rhumbar came from a cocktail. “Our client mentioned a Mojito as a major influence for his bar during one of our first discussions,” Alvarez says. “He didn’t describe it as a Caribbean place right away, but simply described the idea of what he was going to serve. And we try to be very careful about just designing the space you are expecting to see.”

We decided not to use a lot of color, which is a typical cliché associated with a Caribbean place.
—Rafael Alvarez, Partner

Although Rhumbar, a lounge inside the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, is a Latin-themed bar, the architects stayed away from standard design stereotypes. “We decided not to use a lot of color, which is a typical cliché associated with a Caribbean place. That’s one of the reasons why we ended up with this very clean, white space. But the little bit of color gives an idea of where we’re coming from, even though nobody is expecting it,” says Alvarez.

The long, narrow space is separated into three distinct areas: the interior main bar, a quick-service daiquiri bar and an outdoor patio. Each space reflects part of the Caribbean theme, but none do so overtly. “At no point do we want to be cliché in terms of our design, but at the same time, we don’t go 180 degrees in the opposite direction,” says Brock. “When you walk into Rhumbar, you can still see that Caribbean inspiration. It’s not a complete reversal from the cliché.”

Textural Divider
A three-dimensional screen wall separates the main bar from a public corridor. “This space is actually located on the strip, so thousands of people are walking by each day. It’s not the main entry into the Mirage, but it is still a pretty important entry to the casino,” says Brock. Adds Alvarez: “The screen wall is also inspired by the mint leaf found in a Mojito, but it’s not green–it’s white.” Inside, at the daiquiri counter, a backlit bar displays the same mint leaf pattern in neon green.

Bold Lighting
Both inside bars have recessed and track lighting, which provide varying effects, given the bright white aspect of the main bar and the darker stone found on the wall in the daiquiri bar.

Chrome Finishes

The designers used chrome finishes in several places throughout the bar, including the bar stools. “The shiny quality of the chrome is a contrast, and it’s also a reflection. You get a lot of back and forth images when you use that kind of material. When the lighting hits it, you can see how the light is acting as part of the design. You can see color, movement–the reflection is like another material,” says Alvarez.

Smart  Style
A subtle yet thought-provoking design detail reminiscent of Caribbean culture is found within Rhumbar’s metal sculptures. “The lights are three-dimensional interpretations of cock fighters. Each one is an individual piece and every one has a different movement, but they are each acting with each other,” Alvarez says. The architect, who was born in the Dominican Republic, adds: “We have cock fighting where I come from; it’s part of that culture.”

Outdoor Space
The outdoor space exudes the same Caribbean vibe. “We wanted the outdoor area to be a relaxed, comfortable lounge that still has a bit of the Caribbean flavor. We brought the three-dimensional leaf design into the lamps and placed a cut-out image of the cockfights onto the wall,” says Brock.

Design To-Go
“The daiquiri counter is a to-go counter. It’s a very different space. People are walking by quickly, so the design had to be something visually quick. You have one shot to grab someone’s attention, so we went with shocking color,” says Alvarez.

Text by Lauren Del Campo


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