Portal bar in Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune designed to “exist outside of time”

Swedish architecture practice Claesson Koivisto Rune used midnight-blue surfaces and “dreamlike” wall illustrations to create a timeless aesthetic inside this Stockholm bar.


Portal bar has been decked out in dark hues to contrast the “blonde and bright” interiors of the already established Portal restaurant next door, which opened back in 2016 under the helm of chef Klas Lindberg.

Portal bar in Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Located 10 minutes outside of Stockholm’s city centre, the restaurant offers a menu of seasonal dishes, while Portal bar provides a more casual setting where guests can snack on small plates and drink Nordic craft beers, cocktails, or biodynamic wines.

A huge arched portal that looks through to a townhouse-lined street divides the two venues, lending them their name.

Claesson Koivisto Rune – which was charged with developing the bar’s interiors – was keen to avoid any colours and materials that have become “trendy” in design like pink or white marble, so decided to paint all of the bar’s surfaces a shade of deep blue.

Portal bar in Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune

“It’s super important for a customer to come in and think ‘is this new, or is this five years old?’. [The bar] exists outside of time, it was just very important for it to have that warm feeling,” Eero Koivisto, co-founder of the studio, told Dezeen.

“Much thought has gone into creating a contained spatial flow and unity in what used to be two different shops.”

Portal bar in Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Interest is added by illustrations across the ceiling and walls by Swedish artist Jesper Waldersten, which depict abstract faces and fish-like creatures.

“I see the work as dreamlike, friendly constellations against a canopy that is both the ocean and the night sky at the same time,” added Waldersten.

Portal bar in Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Partition walls have largely been omitted to allow clear sightlines through to the rear of the bar, which accommodates a long oakwood table for larger groups of guests. Overhead hangs pendant lamps by Swedish lighting brand Wästberg, comprised of shiny copper discs – these can be lowered via a pulley system to keep dishes warm.

Short flights of stairs lead down to more intimate seating areas and the main bar, where a structural column has been fronted with chalkboard so that staff can write up food or drink specials. Here larger windows have also been installed so that passersby can see the bustling activity of the bar from the street.

Portal bar in Stockholm by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The basement plays host to a green-tile test kitchen, anchored by a stone island where guests can participate in cooking classes, have private dinners, or sample dishes being trialled for the restaurant next door. Timber doors that were about to be thrown away but discovered by chef Lindberg on the street have been used to close off the space.

Much like Claesson Koivisto Rune, Francesc Rifé Studio also opted for darker tones when completing the interiors of Merkato. The market-style restaurant in Valencia features coal-coloured surfaces and blackened timber furnishings.

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