Opened in Seoul’s Itaewon neighbourhood in 1976, All That Jazz is the oldest jazz club in South Korea, the epicentre of the country’s jazz scene where the careers of many famous Korean jazz musicians have begun. So, when it was time for the club to move to a larger space in a nearby location, local interior design studio matter better (mttb) had their work cut out for them as they had to inject the space with a contemporary sensibility in line with the club’s expanded programming and cool new brand identity (the work of South Korean agency hypt) while being respectful to the club’s storied history—not to mention conjuring the restless spirit of jazz music. Their answer is a stripped-down yet immersive space whose dark core is seductively jazzed up by cabaret-like flourishes bathed in red light, a nod to the original club’s red neon lighting.
Entering through a nondescript, red-painted door on the second floor of a commercial building, guests go through the looking glass as they traverse a glass-enclosed corridor bathed in red light—the primary colour of the club’s new brand identity. The corridor, which features gently curving glass walls and an illuminated ceiling, was conceived as a transitional space, a portal into the seductive world of jazz, transporting guests from the humdrum rhythm of city life to the experiential, idiosyncratic tempos of jazz musicians.
Once inside the main area, guests are immersed in a much darker space enveloped for the most part by plush red curtains. Discretely illuminated, the curtains imbue the space with a sense of theatricality as well as brandish the club’s brand identity. At the same time, they also manage to serve a more practical purpose, that is to completely shut off both daylight and the city lights. The result is two distinct zones, a dark central area where most of the seating can be found and a red-swathed perimeter zone which also hosts red-hued seating booths on one side and a red-painted bar area and adjacent DJ booth on another. This configuration makes for a charming ambience without detracting from the spot-lit musicians on stage. On the ceiling, a constellation of jazz icons, their black and white portraits gently lit so as not to mess up the club’s ambience, speak of the club’s hallowed place in the Korean jazz scene as well as pay tribute to its four-decade history as the portraits were also used to decorated the walls of the original venue.