An iconic London music venue that has hosted the likes of R.E.M. and Oasis has relaunched after an extensive makeover to refresh the interior and improve facilities.
Borderline in Soho is well known amongst music aficionados as an intimate basement venue championing the best new music. After over a decade of very little work on the space, new owners DHP Family decided a refresh was in order to truly put the venue back on the London map.
In a former life Borderline had operated as a Mexican themed bar and it was this that formed the inspiration for the new design. London-based design agency Zopsigog, long time collaborators with DHP Family, was once again tasked with refreshing the basement. CEO Andy Lampard spoke to Premier Hospitality about Zopsigog’s design process and its application to Borderline:
“We don’t necessarily have a house style, our style is more process led and centres on a narrative or storyline we can bring out within the design. This makes the bars and restaurants we design far more experiential and we take clients on a journey so it’s nice when they come back.
“Our brief was to maintain the essence and character of Borderline that had built up over the decades but at the same time modernise and make the space more clean cut and contemporary. Primarily it’s a 300 capacity gig space but we wanted to remove an element of the grunge to it so we tabled the idea of having a cocktail bar.
“We’ve built a narrative around what the Borderline was designed as originally and what it meant to people. We’ve designed it with very subtle nods to Mexican elements and there are certain aspects that are quite fun with vibrant colours that reference more traditional pattern works. You wouldn’t necessarily walk in and say you were in a Mexican bar but once you look around there is a vibe.”
The project also provided the opportunity to work on some issues inherited from the club’s previous design. Chief amongst this was a column that sat right in the middle of the viewing platform for the stage, meaning lead singers had to either stand left or right rather than dead centre. A reorientation now means that great views are available throughout the venue.
There is also a fantastic bar that reaches from one level of the gig space and climbs up round the corner of room to become a slightly more intimate cocktail bar serving drinks with a Mexican twist.
Music fans can sample the new atmosphere with a series of exciting gigs already lined up to celebrate the relaunch.
“The biggest challenge by far is working in a basement. Particularly in London, you can never be sure about what you’re going to uncover. Obviously we carry out significant surveys but even then you find surprises. We’re in the bottom of a building that has other occupants, ranging from another bar above to offices above that and running through our basement there are so many services that it’s an absolute minefield.
“All of our projects are completely different and it’s always great working on music venues because the party afterwards is fantastic! Obviously, to be working on something that is a legendary venue in the first place is a real honour. We’re working on a couple of other venues and hopefully in the next year quite a few of these renowned old haunts will reopen.”
DHP Family own and manage eight venues across three cities, each with their own personality. Over the course of 35 years the company has grown to become one of the leading names in the live music industry.