The beachside avenue, Leoforos Nikis, in Thessaloniki, Greece, has received an urban upgrade in the form of Otto e Mezzo, a bistro bar that is infusing the neighborhood with a definable new mood. Expertly combining exacting elements from local Greek culture with the country's Mediterranean flair at large, traditionally Greek and Italian-inspired food and beverages, a.m. coffee to p.m. cocktails and everything in between showcase the best of the region’s flavors while inviting patrons to experience this union in a setting that can only be described as a Mediterranean fusion.
Highlighting the industrial elements of the space, the architects of Thessaloniki-based open architecture practice, Ark4Lab of Architecture, emphasized the hefty supporting beams, time-weathered walls and exposed bronze piping, turning them into character traits. Not only was the bistro's name, Otto e Mezzo, inspired by Federico Fellini's 1963 movie of the same title, but other cinematic references abound as well. Just glance up at the wall beside the bar to be greeted by the artist, Eli's, mural of television's favorite mobster, Tony Soprano while on the wall across the way, a lineup of wooden cutting boards further connects the design to the general concept. "The concept was to design a prosciutteria wherein everything is served on these wood cutting boards. We wanted to combine this with the large, marble sink which all patrons have access to in the center of the bistro, giving it all a 'self service' vibe," George Tyrothoulakis of Ark4Lab says.
The multiple, round glass balls of the inventive, custom-made chandelier (also using many metres of yellow cable) lend an impressive touch, drawing patrons’ views upwards to the tall ceiling. "The chandelier is designed to be dynamic," George says. "Through the use of five dependency points on the ceiling, we have created the possibility to stretch the cables, basically mutating the overall design of the chandelier as the glass balls alter their hanging points."
The other design elements found throughout - including the marble mosaic and industrial tiled walls; the leather bar stools; the aged woods of the tables, bar and herringboned ceiling - also achieve the tone of the Otto e Mezzo's concept. To note, MEXIL, a Thessaloniki-based furniture manufacturer made all the furniture with Ark4Lab designing certain custom items - such as the indoor bar stools - especially for this project. The logo represents yet another collaboration, this time between the architecture practice and graphic designer, Michail Karakosta, who also designed all of the marquee-style signs throughout.
In fact, the inventiveness and expression of the space is perfectly summed up through the inspirational quotes which are displayed, either in the signs - such as the one from Paul Grice, the renowned 20th century British philosopher which greets patrons as they enter - or emblazoned in block letters on the subway tiles of one of the walls: "Beauty is truth, Truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all we need to know."