Vignettes: Keep It On The Down Low

This space harkens back to a bygone era.

Steel arches fabricated by Factotum Fabrication and Design; arch bases, Ativa Custom Design; pillbox seating, arched bar, Factotum Fabrication and Design; tile work, River City Tile Company; tile supplied by Daltile; granite countertop, Urban Granite; custom scent, Libertine Fragrance; tiger mural, AJA Louden; plywood supplied by Hardwoods Specialty Products.

In the early 20th century, most of North America was, legally speaking, “dry,” as social and institutional pressure banished all drinking. Or at least, all drinking in public … sort of. It’s been said that during Prohibition, for every legal bar that was shut down, three more underground bars sprang up in its place. Regardless of the good or harm it may have caused, it created a culture and language that lives on to this day.

It’s a culture that team Timbre’s space celebrates, adding old school cool to Vignettes’ eclectic vibe — minus the moonshine. “The consumption of alcohol was driven out of the public eye and the lack of oversight allowed people to come together in new ways and for an incredible culture of creativity to grow,” says team lead Rick Cor. “For the first time, women drank in establishments alongside men, people of all races commingled and jazz and other arts flourished. We challenged ourselves with our design to make this analogy real. Our design is based around a service bar at the enterance of the room where we imagine a themed cocktail being served.”

The space welcomes you with the bar’s braided steel rods that jut out from the floor, rainbow overhead and reach the far wall lounge area, while extruded minimalist shapes and strong lines frame unadorned furniture and a large mural. It’s a stylish nod to the Prohibition-era workaround of customers paying to see a caged exotic animal and receiving a “complimentary beverage,” sometimes literally under the table. A circular window looks in from the street, giving passers-by a peek in and the space a VIP feel. An uncovered pendant light sets the subversive mood, lighting the pink and creamy tones that were pour painted on the seats, bar and walls.

It’s a modern speakeasy, presented by people who put their go-to styles aside to make something from another time. “We are creating a space for people to come together and share ideas,” says Cor with a wink, “just keep it a secret.”

Or, in the parlance of that time: Vignettes is a place for people to scope out the scenes, see, a real nice joint, without any goons or grifters, where dames and cool cats can wear their glad rags and tip a few back — and it won’t cost them twenty large. When you’re there, make sure you gun for the speakeasy — it’s in the back, kind of off to the side. Ask for the “Blind Tiger.” But if someone starts speaking wise, or you feel any heat, tell them you don’t know nuthin’.

Sponsor — Maven and Grace

Project Creatives

Millwork Contractor —  Factotum Fabrication and Design, Richard Cor

Artist — AJA Louden

Artist and Designer — Clay Lowe Design, Clay Lowe

Artisan —  Iron Hill Designs, Ryan Segboer​

Designer/Perfumer — Libertine Fragrance, Josh Smith

Designer — Taabish Zaver

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This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.

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