Completed / Interior Design Area - 900m²
Strange Fruit is a nightclub housed in a former cinema in the basement of Downtown Beirut's Starco Centre, a beautifully restored example of the kind of Modernist buildings that were popular in Lebanon in the 1960's and 1970's.
The flexible interior is a distinctive fusion of retro and ‘robo’ styles, a 21st century stage-set that’s impressive without ever being overwhelming.
Elements of the club's pre-war incarnation have been retained, from the sloping floor and cinema seats in the toilet area / chill-out space to the original silver screen (still used for weekly screenings) and ticket-booth, complete with a price list dating back to 1975.
The space is cavernous, but the eyes quickly become inured to the soaring interior and architectural sleights thanks to the imaginative design which is inspired by many sources include the building itself. All materials chosen are highly tactile, an important part of the club experience.
By the entrance, the main bar dominates the lounge. Clad in rubber, it is bathed in the blue and white glow of the giant South Seas picture wall which displays a shimmering and ever-changing sweep of soft white sand, surf and palm trees. Hidden in this radiant paradise are images of butterfly-like UFOs which can only be seen from certain angles, appearing and disappearing as you move about the club. This motif is repeated in brightly colored acrylic lights designed by CAI Light which hang from the ceiling of the lounge area.
Kitsch silk-printed portraits, silhouettes and slogans reminiscent of 1970’s t-shirt designs, and revolutionary Left Bank graffiti courtesy of Paris-based street artist Fury grace the walls and tabletops.
Then there is the feast of furnishings; airbag chairs, wheat seed-studded tabletops, foam-packed poufs, and Plexiglas chairs and Tennis Tables designed by AKK Architects.
The massive, moveable expanse of shiny red industrial plastic (a clever pun on traditional, red velvet theatre curtains) not only divides the club in two when necessary, but also provides highly effective insulation and enhanced acoustics. Together with an enormous concrete OEframe placed in front of the stage (another seating area), it creates the impression of an over-sized television set.