Quite in the spirit of astronomer Ole Rømer, magic has been conjured with light at the Rømer in Aarhus. The new gastronomic hot-spot has been created in collaboration with Bønnelycke Architects who, like the world-famous Rømer himself, have a special sense of lighting.
Spicy sharing platters, of the kind which sends your imagination on an exotic journey, a warm and homely atmosphere, cocktails which titillate the taste buds, atmospheric light which calls for casual gatherings, and a decor characterised by spicy hints. These are the main ingredients in Rømer’s new concept. The newly opened meeting place in Aarhus, by the canal close to the Clemens bridge, is a condensed sensory experience, inspired by the many travels of hosts Inge and Uffe Jakobsen. The two enterprising restaurateurs, who run several cafes and restaurants in the capital of Jutland, have condensed their impressions from visits to South America, Asia and the Mediterranean into one international universe with lots of authentic atmosphere. To give their ideas wings and find the perfect materials, colours, textures, furniture – and not least light fixtures – Inge and Uffe Jakobsen contacted Bønnelycke Architects.
As always, when architect Henrik Bønnelycke and his team embarks on the type of tasks where a coherent universe must be created which embraces many different types of guests, the basis for the good result is always a very close dialogue with the owners to find out what their dreams looks like. In Rømers case, the atmosphere is designed to support the colourful Latin American cuisine. “To complement Rømer’s “spicy food”, we first and foremost worked very intensively with creating the right lighting. Lighting is a very important factor when you need to capture just the right atmosphere,” Henrik Bønnelycke explains. “If you need to create the optimum atmosphere in a room, it is crucial to get the balance between light and shadow right. It cannot be too bright, but not too dark either,” explains Bønnelycke, who designed a wide range of light fixtures over the years, for among others Design For The People by Nordlux. Indeed, he also chose his own designs for Rømer, where the room is so large and high-ceilinged, there was plenty of room for the expressive Dee glass pendant, which has just been awarded with a Red Dot Award, one European Product Award and a A’Design Award.
The new pendant, which consists of a glass dome which has been sandblasted at the bottom and has clear glass at the top, has been placed high up, all the way down through the 32 metre room. It provides a natural flow through the room as well as the feeling of a little mist or steam being caught in each of the light fixtures. In a magical way, the light creates an effect in the room and each individual pendant stands out to impressive, sculptural effect.
The balance between light and shadow
The Rømer is a fine example of the nice and welcoming atmosphere occurring when the balance between light and shadow is right. “Good light is not created by a single lighting type. We must work with both direct and indirect light,” says Bønnelycke who used an Anniversary Pendant with a metal shade and a warm source of light above the tables, where it offers the same warm atmosphere as candles. “The light fixture also has the effect that it creates intimate spaces along the 32-metre long facade. The effect is supported by the award-winning MIB spots – a super simple light fixture series based on classic design virtues. The tiltable light fixture with its sleek and Nordic design, sends a focused lightbeam down on each table. This creates a cosy and private atmosphere amidst an otherwise large room,” explains Bønnelycke, who used lighting to create a comfortable and inviting setting for 150 table and bar seats. Thus, one might argue that Bønnelycke Architects, with their own point of departure, build on Ole Rømer’s almost 400-year-old theory of the hesitation of light.
A friendly place
The point of departure for designing the Rømer has been to establish a friendly and welcoming place – a little homely in that unpretentious and inclusive way – in short, a place where you feel welcome and at ease. To achieve this ambition, apart from the lighting, Bønnelycke Architects focused on using warm, natural materials which age beautifully. For example, an oak plank floor with lots of graining and knots leaves a rustic impression.
“Too delicate materials and surfaces easily result in a dismissive atmosphere. That is why it made sense to select materials which already have that weathered look. At the Rømer, we therefore opted to cover the very long bar with burned steel. It gives a warm, blue-brownish and visually soft surface,” explains Henrik Bønnelycke who, in order to emphasise the informal atmosphere, also mixed many different types of furniture. With a trained eye and a top-tuned sense of colours and patterns, you can go all-in and let different styles meet: Benches and soft upholstered chairs mixed with dining chairs in stained wood, natural wood and aluminium with and without varnish. Everything is tied together by lots of colourful and patterned pillows and from it, harmony arises. “We have a mix of natural oak, burned and galvanized metal, natural stone, transparent curtains, glass and a myriad of different furniture, each with their own expression. It is a material orgy on the grandest of scales, but along the way, we maintained a constant focus on the smallest of details,” says Bønnelycke who has been involved in everything from facade, decor and lighting to graphical identity and logo to doorknobs, napkins and the bent neon signs showing the way to the lavatories.