Alberto Caiola has taken the new Shanghai trend for speakeasies and pushed the concept one step further by hiding an intimate lounge bar behind a sandwich shop with décor that melds industrial minimalism with 1950s touches.
In order to standout from the other speakeasy-themed bars, Alberto Caiola decided to “build suspense and break it in an entirely unexpected fashion,” and the result was ‘The Press’, a sandwich shop in the style of a traditional American diner, with a bright pink counter and neon lighting on the walls. But the lack of furnishings and the rough concrete floor and walls give a sense that the Press is staged, a façade behind which there is something waiting to be discovered.
The vintage Coca-Cola vending machine, standing unassumingly to the side of the counter holds the secret, and when the front of it swings open it reveal the Flask lounge bar behind.
As visitors walk through a little tunnel from the to the Flask, the atmosphere becomes warmer. Shelves of giant 25 litre whiskey bottles divide the spaces, something I’m sure wouldn’t have existed in genuine speakeasies. The same could be said for the giant cubes hanging from the ceiling for dramatic effect. The lighting is muted and warm, creating an intimate and cozy atmosphere, while the mirrored back wall creates a sense of space in a room with low ceilings.
Flask is a stylish addition to Shanghai’s growing number of speakeasies, and certainly makes Alberto Caiola an architect worth watching in future.