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The Home Front: Beautiful design for those who love to entertain

The team at East Van’s New Format Studio have created a standout bar cabinet

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As we head towards summer and all the entertaining that awaits us, it’s a great time to reflect on how well we are setting up to host.

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Postmedia sat down with designer and metal fabricator Henry Norris, founder of East Vancouver-based New Format Studio. Norris and his team have outfitted more than one swanky North American bar and produce a standout entertaining piece — the Plano bar cabinet.

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What is this bar cabinet?

“The Plano bar cabinet is one of our signature pieces. I designed it to be among the finest metal cabinets in the world, and it’s really a monument to craft — entirely handmade in our studio from curved glass, bronze and steel,” he says.

All the pieces that the cabinet contains — from the glass racks to the bottle slings, to the custom hinges and magnetic door catches — were made in their studio, says Norris.

He says this cabinet was inspired by a piece of curved glass Norris saw in a vendor’s workshop one day.

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Curved glass Plano Bar cabinet by Vancouver's New Format Studio.
Curved glass Plano Bar cabinet by Vancouver’s New Format Studio. Photo by Kezia Nathe /PNGs

“It had an amazing optical quality that I immediately knew I had to find a way to use,” he says. And so all the engineering and work that went into creating the Plano was aimed at taking that curved glass and giving it a place in someone’s home.

Notable hospitality design

Last year, New Format Studio made a 3,000-pound solid cast bronze bar for Rockefeller Plaza, New York, restaurant Le Rock.

Along with the bar, they created metal furniture and pieces, including a towering brass and glass screen and shelving units behind the barn, a partition wall and cast bronze coat hooks in the seating area.

New Format has a strong connection to New York, with a large client base there, says Norris. So this project felt like a poetic moment in the studio’s growth, he says.

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Verdigris screen at Le Rock restaurant, in Rockefeller Plaza, New York, by New Format Studio.
Verdigris screen at Le Rock restaurant, in Rockefeller Plaza, New York, by New Format Studio. Photo by Matthew Williams /PNGs

New Format is now working on a hotel in Miami, says Norris, designing an etched-brass wall paneling system that will run throughout the bar and restaurant area.

“Our finishing team is painting the panels by hand and submerging them in a corrosive solution so that everything that’s not been painted will be etched.”

A bit of background

New Format works with prominent architects and designers across North America to decorate and furnish their projects. The group also produces their own furniture collections and fulfills custom requests.

“We’re a collection of creative and passionate people, and together we create a huge amount of materials, ideas, and products — these ideas show up as finishes, textures, furniture pieces, objects, sculptures, and hardware, among others,” he says.

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3000 pound solid cast bronze bar by New Format Studio for Le Rock, a restaurant in Rockefeller Plaza, New York.
3000 pound solid cast bronze bar by New Format Studio for Le Rock, a restaurant in Rockefeller Plaza, New York. Photo by Matthew Williams /PNGs

It has grown its studio by having a ‘build it, and they will come’ mentality, says Norris. “By striving to have this massive and constant creative output, we attract clients who are interested in working in partnerships and weaving together what we make with what they need. This ranges from furniture to architectural metalwork, sculptures for artists — basically any decorative metal product.

“Recently, we’ve been creating smaller functional objects as well: mirrors, hardware, and the like,” he says.

What’s next for New Format Studio?

“We’re in the process of working on a very exciting project with our friends from the Small Victory Bakery and Café. Their new space in Mt. Pleasant is getting a feature ceiling and other elements by New Format, and the space designed by &Daughters is going to be truly impressive,” says Norris.

The team is also working on a new sculpture project with the Douglas Reynolds Gallery for carver and artist Phil Gray and has several residential projects on the go.

“We’re working with Leckie Studio on a pair of highly designed prefab cabins and Patricia Gray Interiors to create all of the interior metalworking on an amazing West Van residence,” says Norris.

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