A treat for both the city’s audiophile community and its design lovers, the newly opened Honeycomb HI-FI listening bar and restaurant in Dubai brings together a space of creative expedition. Launched by the team behind other successful venues such as Miss Lily’s and Indochine, Honeycomb HI-FI is VKD Hospitality’s latest tribute to the city.
The plurality of the space makes it difficult to pigeonhole as a single offering, and its influences and collaborations are just as wide-ranging. The bar gives back to the cultural scene of the city, with visitors being met by a record store created in collaboration with Flipside Records upon entry, leading to a set of noren curtains that finally reveals the darkened and intimately lit bar and dining space.
“The choice of materials is the foundation of the design concept,” says Serge Becker, creative director and partner at VKD Hospitality, who worked with New York-based Volenec Studio on the interiors. “The whole interior space is built from construction-grade plywood. It is a humble material that I first worked with three decades ago, and since then, a whole world of architecture and design has developed around this basic building block. We also combined references from traditional Japanese houses as well as recording studio interiors [and turned it] into this honey-coloured environment.”
“Honeycomb is part of a tradition of izakayas, which are Japan’s gastro pubs, vinyl listening lounges and jazz kissa coffee shops. These traditions have spread around the world, and we had put our own spin on it in true Kaizen fashion,” he continues.
The perforated wooden wall panels that resemble a honeycomb become the base of the contemporary space, balanced with nostalgic touches such as the retro Bruno Rey barstools and chairs inspired by the works of Tobia Scarpa. Japanese influences are also present throughout, such as in the Takumi-style carpets and the clean lines of the overall space, which is covered in acoustic foam, reaffirming its audio-centric experience.
The ’Listening Bar’ is at the forefront of the space and is true to its name, while ‘The Gallery’ is a smaller elevated space off the main room with an added sense of intimacy, hidden behind subtle shutters. It also showcases a rotating art exhibition, featuring global music cultures throughout time, with a current collaboration with photographer Bill Bernstein featuring images from New York’s nightlife scene in the 1970s.
Another important collaboration is that with legendary designer Devon Turnbull, who builds speakers, amps and turntables by hand, creating distinct hi-fi sound systems. His work at Honeycomb is no different, with his minimally designed Ojas speakers integrating into the overall interiors of the space.
The recently opened outdoor terrace, dubbed ‘The Garden’, is a tribute to Japanese bamboo gardens, with an industrial edge. A deep green bamboo cage surrounds the area, and the artificial turf floor references the country’s moss gardens. The rest of the materials are kept humble but not without creative flair. “The particle board banquettes with exposed packing foam cushions utilise materials that are usually covered with higher-end finishes, while the Vico Magistretti plastic chairs are a precursor to the ubiquitous monobloc chairs that are the most widely used seating staple all over the world,” Becker says. A floating plywood bar stands elevated at the end of the terrace, where guests can enjoy the open air and waterside views of the canal through the dramatic bamboo cage grid.