When we tasked Mark Albrecht to design a modern bar for the home, the seasoned US furniture designer, who has operated his eponymous design and fabrication studio since 1997, did not take it lightly.
‘The idea of a home bar was very appealing to me on a personal level. A lot of the ones on the market are a little bit clichéd, so I couldn’t have asked for a better challenge,’ the New Yorker explains. ‘I looked online for images of standing bars from the 1950s and 1960s; sort of that Mad Men-style – coming home and having a drink classic. That’s what I grew up witnessing. Cocktails were a big part of socialising for my parents and my grandparents.’
From this nostalgic jumping off point, Albrecht’s respect for the cherished traditions of woodworking and his passion for craftsmanship led him to bring the archetype straight into the modern era. His bar is statuesque and freestanding. Crafted from black American walnut, it exhibits several of his refined design signatures, such as a deliciously sturdy bronze latch handle for its cabinet, polished metal inlays subtly placed into the wood, and a slender metal base that sits gently on circular, hand-stitched leather levellers.
Albrecht also gave thought to the functionality of the home bar in today’s context. ‘A lot of bars in the 1980s were built into the space and architecture and had shelves, a cabinet underneath and a bar surface. People would store things in the cabinet and keep their glasses out for display. It was nice to display your wares, but at the end of the day it was totally non-functional because the glasses had to be cleaned every time you wanted to use them.’
To solve this, Albrecht outfitted his cabinet with a leather-lined drawer for housing glasses, with ample storage below for less photogenic bottles of spirits, and a hidden, catch-all tray for storing bar tools (also lined in hand-stitched leather) that quietly swings out from under the bar top when needed. A polished steel ice bucket and matching tongs, produced with the help of Albrecht’s tightly knit crew at his studio in Long Island City, Queens, makes serving the perfect cocktail all the easier.
Albrecht sums up: ‘The bar can be set up differently depending on the event, whether it’s just another couple coming over for dinner, a dinner party for ten people, or a full-on party with people coming and going. The versatility of having something that can adapt to different circumstances is important. That’s how I live, and how I think a lot of us live today.’
As originally featured in the August 2015 edition of Wallpaper* (W*197)