Dive down a dimly fluorescent flight of stairs at 411 MARE ST; Behind This Wall is a contemporary neighbourhood basement bar on the top of the NARROW WAY, Hackney Central. The bar was built and is run by friends with a resolutely singular approach to design, music and drinking. Reflecting this is a space that sets itself firmly in the present, cleanly finished; white tile, Birch ply, and stained concrete are contrasted with accents of the original brick work. The memory of the Turkish Men’s club that it once was has not been completely erased however; the long bar, cosy seating areas and dark blue ceiling allow the place a certain intimacy, without resorting to vintage kitsch. Despite clear Japanese and Scandinavian influence in the form and finishes, the bar manages to avoid coldness with it’s relaxed approach. Built-in plywood seating plays with rudimental shapes, alongside pared back Judd-meets-Aalto bar stools. Pictures by local artists and photographers rotate seasonally alongside the menu, with the selected artist being given free range on the hanging of the images. The feel of the place can change suddenly as a new photographer puts their stamp on the walls. Aside from the shifting aspect of the artwork, the minimal space is held back from feeling at all clinical by having been built almost entirely by bar owner Alex Harris and his friends, with intermittent help from a couple of trusted tradesmen and cabinetmaker Jack Leith. The result is a warm and unassuming space that transports it's guests far away from the busy street outside, without ever trying too hard to do so.
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