Experience the class of the 1920s in this millennium.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
As I face the cobalt blue façade of Bright Young Things on Sathorn Soi 12, it’s easy to see from the burnished gold lettering and velvet outside seating that the space has embraced the bold charm of Art Deco design. In true 1920s fashion, the cocktail bar incorporates speakeasy elements – although it’s easy to spot the space itself, its entrance requires a little more finagling to find. To the side is a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf stuffed with hardbound tomes and liquor bottles, and I feel a thrill as it swings open at my touch; in that moment I’m a hardboiled detective in a noir film of the era, on the scent of something new.
“It all came down to our fascination with the cocktail bar & speakeasy concept,” Priyanuch ‘Priya’ Khanijou, the bar’s co-owner together with fiancé Ratchanon Khanijou, reveals to me when I step in. “We often bar hopped both locally and abroad, and we wondered, ‘What if we had our own?’ Thus, we created this secret escape, which we opened in December of last year.” Indeed, the dark, high-ceilinged foyer I find myself in gives no hint to what’s beyond the heavy velvet curtains at the end, besides an intriguing hint in the form of a neon-red sign to ‘Destroy Me,’ – a promise or warning, it’s up to me to decide. “That was my fiancé’s decision,” Priya says with a laugh. “It’s inspired by current trends and he wanted it to be a talking point before people entered the main area.”
This sense of pushing boundaries is the zeitgeist encapsulated by the bar, the name of which was inspired by a group of bohemian socialites in 1920s London who embraced unconventionality and hedonism as a way to recover from the trauma of WWI. “The name ‘Bright Young Things’ just clicked with the concept of self-conceptualisation for everybody,” Priya explains as she leads me into the atmospheric bar, done up in warm shades of teal. The space itself allows for guests to define their own concept of a night of freedom and revelry – on one side is a cosy sitting area bordered by comfortable sofas in sumptuous leather, while the other features a backlit bar stretching up towards the vaulted ceiling on the other side of the room. “Our vision was to mix European decor with cosy vibes, in a retro-style bar that’s a modernised throwback to the Prohibition Era. It targets the 20s to 40s crowd that craves both a chill oasis one night and a hot dance floor on another.”
To that end, the space is filled with points of interest, curated by both Priya and Ratchanon. “Both Ratchanon and I have had local and international education, which gives us a modern perspective of global experiences, and we’ve integrated that into the design,” Priya says, as she points out the carefully-chosen framed paintings depicting different cultures from around the world. “Not only is the décor European, but we also have cocktails with unique presentations named after the European cities that inspired them, and our team is continuously creating new and interesting concoctions for people to try. Our aim is to bring the class of the 20s into this millennium.”
This dichotomy can be clearly seen in the complimentary anachronisms throughout the bar: Victorian wallpaper on one wall abuts another in plain black, on which a neon-lit sign of the bar’s name is suspended. The latter, Priya reveals, is one of her favourite design elements: “It’s catchy, a perfect showcase of identity, and an opportune backdrop for our customers and influencers.” The other is the high-shelved bar itself, which she felt elevated their look by making best use of the high ceiling. These spacing decisions, she explains, are paramount in design: “You need to go out to other F&B spaces that inspire you, and look into the themes and spacing decisions they made, then see how you can use those ideas yet come up with something different.” But the most important advice she can give someone designing their own space? “Go with your gut instinct,” she says, “and keep to your vision.”
BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS
101 North Sathorn Road, Sathorn Soi 12,
Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500
Open daily from 5pm to midnight
Tel: 085 553 5844
Facebook and Instagram: @bytbarbkk