Lighting By Design: Bar Savvy

We were thrilled to recently partner with client Farmers Restaurant Group’s Creative Director, Leah Browning Frankl, to talk Outstanding Spaces: Inviting Bar Design.

Offering a creative overview of bar lighting design ideas and best practices, Leah outlined her top bar design elements: function, energy, and materials, while also providing insight on how crafting a great bar for guests to gather around is just as essential as crafting great cocktails to drive business to a restaurant’s beverage program.

During our talks, Leah’s passion for design really shined, and soon segued to lighting. We’ve always been intrigued by how the right lighting design can immediately transform a space, even highlighting our partnership with Stroik Lighting Design in designing our client’s downtown DC restaurant, Farmers & Distillers.

Now, Leah shares her expertise on the importance of lighting in setting a mood and enhancing a space with hospitality lighting design.

“In my opinion,” she says, “the secret ingredient to great bar design is lighting.” Leah and her team put a great deal of thought, research, and artistic approach to properly lighting the bar areas for all of the Farmers Restaurant Group of restaurants. Incorporating various lighting designs to provide interest and many layers of light to achieve a perfect balance is what Leah and her team strive for.

For example, Diffused Lighting, such as shaded lamps, creates a beautiful wash of light on guests’ faces. Whereas Pin Lights, with a narrower focus, illuminate a bar top so guests can read the menu and see their food and drink. Task Lights provide bar teams with abundant workspace lighting so they can prep and create fantastic cocktails. Architectural Lighting creates drama by highlighting architectural features or washing them with a soft glow. LED Tape Lights are great for up-lighting bar elements like craft spirit bottles with a celebratory glow, whether on suspended shelves or a back bar. And, Decorative Light Fixtures can create an interesting focal point, from offering the guest a lovely design detail to a glimmer of sparkle.

Leah and her team enjoy collaborating with some of the top lighting design specialists in the business. Some of their best, and brightest, work has been with the team at George Sexton Associates for lighting the striking bar at Founding Farmers Tysons, and the design team at Lighting Workshop for creating amazing lighting designs for the bars at Founding Farmers Reston Station and Founding Farmers King of Prussia (pictured).

Achieving success using many layers of lighting at a bar can be a challenge, but Leah and her team find the rewards of setting the stage with some fantastic bar energy that draws a crowd to be well worth all their hard work.