Hi/Lo by Workshop of Wonders

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The name Hi/Lo (it was originally ‘the destination’) came through the efforts of Dietwee (the graphic masters in Utrecht that are creating the clubs 2d identity), it is international and visualizes instantly the bipolar concept of Heaven & Hell that lies at the root of this interior design. It also corresponds to the different experiences of getting stoned and is used to depict many different aspects for example the different tastes on the weed and hash menu.

Hi/Lo is the first new pot smoking venue in Utrecht in 20 years! There are in total about 15 of them in city of 350.000 people. Amsterdam has over 200 ‘coffeeshops’. The client Mazied Moos spent more than six years trying to get a permit for this location considering all the federal and municipal restrictions.

What once was the pride of the Netherlands is now under a lot of pressure from many sides, the optimism in this hospitality branch has been lost.
Workshop of Wonders were given the chance to give it a new face, and a new energy. The client had fought so long to realize this location that when he succeeded he only wanted the best!

He told that the name was to be ‘the destination’, in Dutch also referring to the federal and municipal retractions. When Gerrit Vos from Workshop of Wonders heard it, he said: “there are only two eventual destinations and I’m gong to make them both for you, Heaven and Hell!”
The given location is made up of two floors each about 100m2 situates above each other, Heaven on the ground floor and Hell in the basement.

Though other more conservative colleges had refused the job, Workshop of Wonders loved it! Even though they don’t smoke dope themselves, they do have a passion for adventure and an understanding of the need to get away from it all!

Together with Moos they have succeeded to give the Dutch weed smoking bars (the only legal ones on Earth?) a new impulse, a new direction, one that they can be proud of. Therefore is has been baptized a “smoking club”.

Their brief at the time was to design a contemporary high-end hospitality space, giving a sense of security and comfort and using elements that make reference to an Arabic atmosphere (Moos’s roots lie in Morocco).

For the Heaven they were inspired by the idea that you are floating in a cloud landscape, airy and light. The one off heavenly Wall Art created via the Shop Around agency in Amsterdam supported this fully, including the sunrays radiating from the only back window that they transformed into the sun.  This total artwork was produced and installed by Vertical Vision from Weesp. Workshop of Wonders designed large organic glass elements by the entrance to control the client access and added cubistic clouds of glass and steel to create a sales counter and a screen to hide the vending and coffee machines.

The whole is supported by products they selected from the collections of Moroso, Hay, Modular Lighting, Diesel and Foscarini. Beautiful design products that help create the atmosphere. By using glass, steel and leather as main materials they created a resistance to the many hot butts and roaches. The Foscarini Tropico lanterns and the Spiderwoman chairs from Hay give a hint of Arabian influence.

Down in the Hell is that much more direct, it was inspired by the opium dens of the east, those dark rooms where one stays for days under the influence of that mystic substance.  Here we have the Arabic theme much more present with all the leather couches to lay on and the legged trays from Hay collection and Cage lamps from the Diesel Collection mixed in with local Moroccan products contrasted by the back lit exploded aluminium wall panels and black glass casings for vending machines and TVs. The toilets and storage, were hidden in a black box finished with a tadelakt coating. The toilets enhance the experience level of someone who is stoned by introducing narrow passages, illuminated sinks and the Kisses urinal designed by local designer Meike van Schijndel.

“We are damn proud of the final result because we have succeeded in taking our client down the road leading to this result exceeding all his wildest expectations.We are also very proud of the fact that even though there were 250 (unsuccessful) appeals submitted by neighbors apposing this project that when the were invited a few weeks ago to have a look inside the vast majority was so impressed their resistance went up in smoke. We hope we have once again been able to create a space that supports our main goal of creating memories. We love being part of the experience that customers will have enjoying this environment in their various stages of getting high. We are happy that we had the chance to add a new chapter in this very unique part of the hospitality industry.”

Source: Workshop of Wonders


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