Ada’s Technical Books has become an institution in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The owners had constructed a building on 15th Ave to house their technical bookstore, café, and co-working space, and it was completed a couple years prior to the start of our involvement in this project. The building had an extra room in the back of the courtyard waiting to be transformed into their ideal events space, which became our project, called The Lab.
First we finished out the courtyard: The courtyard outside The Lab is overflow seating for the café next door. We planned the café lights and custom heater poles to best fit the simple, yet comfortable, furniture arrangement that we designed.
Then came time to tackle the unfinished room that became The Lab Cocktails, Coffee, and Events space.
The phrase that kept coming up throughout the duration of the project was “presto change-o”. The priority for this project, and what drove the functional aspects of the design, was the ability to use the same space in 3 separate ways:
Restaurant seating at tables for a cocktail bar atmosphere, as well as table seating for interactive workshops
Lecture seating, with rows of seats to view presentations
Open room/cocktail party configuration with minimal to zero tables in order to accommodate larger groups
It sounds simple enough until you find out there was no space on the property to store much additional furniture when not in use, so everything needed to be contained within the space itself. We were able to devise a solution to meet all their needs, largely with the use of custom-designed, fold-up tables. Functionally, we also had to find a way to seat the largest number of people, while also providing enough walkway for servers and bartenders to do their jobs.
Branding & Aesthetics
The branding of the space was inspired by Pierre and Marie Curie, who discovered the lethal element Radium. We wanted the space to feel dark, moody, and old-world science-inspired. Every element of the design visually falls in line with the branding.
The dramatic, heavy draperies at the entry are lined in skeleton print fabric, reminiscent of old anatomy textbooks.
The custom tables have a cabinet with a chalkboard face to house them when they are up. When they are down, the standing legs shows off aluminum panels customized with The Lab graphics.
The custom pendant light fixtures raise and lower overhead to correspond to the table position. Down when the table is down, and up when the table is up to allow for ease of walking underneath. The wall sconces are test-tube inspired. The piece de resistance for the whole room is the spectacular chandelier made from test tubes. It’s the perfect focal point for a science-y themed space.
The flooring is classic black hex tile with a black & white border.
One of our favorite spots in The Lab is the seating nook. The space has custom built-in seating and table made from reclaimed wood. The walls are covered in decoupaged old science textbook pages.
The full bar was a design project on its own. The use of Mod Bar espresso taps, along with clever planning, made this highly functional zone still look sleek and fit with the vibe of the room.
Large custom cabinets above the bar house glassware and special coffee- and cocktail-brewing equipment.
The back wall of the space showcases a full-size Periodic Table of the Elements.