Meet the interior designer creating the new Punch Bowl...

With the reopening of The Punch Bowl, we have undergone a massive refurbishment bringing the venue a new lease of life. We chatted to our lead interior designer Paul Carruthers about this impressive project and how the little details you might not even notice are key to, in his words, create 'a venue that is comfortable and at ease with it's self.'

The Punch Bowl has been in Crookes for over 100 years. What style was it originally built in and what features will you be retaining?

I believe it was originally designed in the style of a Swiss Cottage around the turn of the century and we will be, of course, retaining and restoring as much of the beautiful façade as possible. Unfortunately almost all of the original interior fittings and most of the character have succumbed to subsequent contemporary refurbishments, so we don't have a lot to work with. We will be restoring what we have left of the original bar and extending it to it's original proportions along with as many tradition style architectural features as we can source.

What is new in the pub?

We have few original features to work with, so we are in many ways 'reinstating' and restoring the venue to bring back its soul. We are trying to achieve a unity of design within the framework of the building, one that embraces the past but also mirrors the adventurous nature of the Crookes community. Some customers may not fully recognise the amount of work and effort we've put in, as the venue may look like 'it's always been there' and to be honest, I'll take that - a venue that is comfortable and at ease with its self.

Is there a particular theme to the grouping of objects and pictures?

The answer is always yes but they may not always have the same influences. I think the easiest way to explain it is that it's eclecticism with a refined edit. The interior will be a reflection of the restored character of the venue, the nature of the community and the personality of the company. So, a mixture of antique, mid-century, graphic design and contemporary art - my job is to make that mixture flow and, as I've suggested, above be comfortable with itself.

There are lots of antique and unique pieces in the venue? Which is your favourite?

It's always going to about the lighting for me. The fact that I'm able to source vintage fittings and give

them some sort of continuity, is something that I'm constantly striving for. On the first floor, in our new function room area, I've been fortunate enough to find a pair of mid-century tole ware corn lights and several wall lights that are a very close match. This period of design I've not had much chance to experiment with previously, so I'm enjoying the challenge and the lights were a great find and a great place to start. For the same area, I've also found a series of portraits of Lodge members which are very cool and very inspirational.

What would you say has been the best find?

The one I kept...just kidding! The best find would be a series of pitch pine paneling that you see around the venue. These are late 19th century pew backs and are a pretty seamless match to the original bar colour, so much so that you may not even recognise that they are a new addition to the interior.

Can you tell us some more about the larger pieces of artwork?

They are all so different and important in their own right. The older portraiture tell stories of people, the fact that someone through their love invested a lot of money to capture a moment; even if we don't see the beauty, the person, someone did. There will be several large pieces of contemporary art, most of which will be the choices of the owner Kane and my job will be to present these seamlessly within the venue. He does have a wonderful work by Jeremy Deller which I've requested. This piece shows the link from brass bands to acid house, for him a link that speaks of working class community and culture - FABULOUS!

Lighting is very important in a pub. What inspired your choices here?

Atmosphere and atmosphere. I've talked about using antique and vintage product above but the most important part is to present a comfortable and inviting ambiance. I want the customer to feel at home with the environment, I don't even need them to know why they feel comfortable, as long as they do. An interior is just a picture without people and a pub is it's people. If we create the right atmosphere, then I'd hope that we can attract interesting people.

On entering I'd like them 'to feel' at home and have a sense of belonging. Enjoy warm lively atmosphere, a place where you can come and exchange views, meet friends, make new ones, listen to great music, eat good food. Good design should disappear into a feeling.

The Punch Bowl is a large building - How did you retain the intimacy and cosiness of a small pub?

Despite a series of refurbishments, the fabric of the structure and the nature of the building remains intact. A series of easily divisible spaces that branch off a central bar and have been styled by use. There will be a specified eating area with ambient lighting, a cosy lounge style seating area and standing 'tap' style area for relaxed socialising.

What inspired the colour scheme?

The creation of atmosphere. A colour scheme is collaboration of texture, colour and light. I wanted to use quite a wide pallet but one that moves comfortably from one colour into the next with muted soft tones, a subtle, cohesive and complimentary flow.

What differentiates The Punch Bowl from other True North venues?

I would like to think that all the True North venues that I've been involved with have personality. An individual personality that is developed in conjunction and in sympathy with the building. The Punch Bowl will be different by design and personality but will have a True North stamp. A venue that is as much about renovation and restoration, as it is about design. I work for True North and hope to express their personality. True North is a true maverick, one that has inspired many people and many businesses. I personally work to see that individuality expressed within their interiors. True North is the original independent.

The Punch Bowl will officially be opening it's doors later this month. To keep up to date with all the latest news, head to our Facebook page.

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