Come Together

Today's day-to-night spaces demand both adaptability and straight up design wow. Sundukovy Sisters' design for Community delivers that with an intellectual twist.

Flexibility and mobility matter, not just in fitness but in design. Multi-venue hotspots are moving beyond the conventional groupings of bar, restaurant and nightclub or meeting and event space. Sundukovy Sisters’ design for Community, a bar/restaurant/theater/lecture hall/private dining room/tea room in Moscow, is a poster child for new-school design fluidity. While there are dedicated areas for each of those purposes, signaled by dramatic material shifts, finding some subtle linking thread was still critical.

Community Moscow | Sundukovy Sisters

Bookshelves form a backdrop in the theater area. Photo: Nikita Kruchkov

A beauty-and-brains vision board that’s equal parts library and glamorous social space lays the foundation for the venue’s constant (r)evolutions. The curved theater space needed some visual interest to avoid a low-budget black box look. So, Irina and Olga Sundukova, cofounders of their eponymous firm, turned to outsize FF&E for a way to dress their own set. Bookshelves frame most of the space, doubling as dividers and focal points. Giant images of book spines stretch across one wall for a clever play on proportion.

Community Moscow | Sundukovy Sisters

Lecture-hall-inspired seating reinforces the theme. Don't try cramming for exams in these books, though--they're just for show. Photo: Nikita Kruchkov

“We wanted the point of attraction to be a library instead of a restaurant,” says Olga. Turning to a broader range of literary inspiration beyond simply the books themselves was also key. “We carried on the library theme in the eating areas by using soft and subtle lighting, and we placed a large colorful sofa for long tea parties and conversations. The room for master classes has a chalkboard covering a whole wall, as well as a library print and a rug print for increased coziness,” adds Irina.

Community Moscow | Sundukovy Sisters

Layered illumination in the dining area allows the space to morph from day to evening. Photo: Nikita Kruchkov

So, how does that concept play out over 1800 sq. ft. and a full menu of space use options (including weekday-to-weekend transformation: during the week, the primary incarnation is as a restaurant and library, while the lecture hall and theater identity is highlighted on weekends)? The location, a former club space in the building of the State University for Design and Technology, helps. Its single-floor layout simplifies the creation of distinct and distinctive hotspots. Shifts in color, texture and finishes are easier to pull off when guests can’t necessarily see the entire building at once. For example, the lighter, more minimalist style of the bar and the adjacent restaurant space fits with its window wall and natural light. A dark blue in the hallway echoes the color of accent lighting in those eating areas. In the private dining room, ultradeep tones reinforce a sense of luxurious seclusion. How is that for smart?