We couldn’t stop looking at them last night: they’re so vibrant and the colour choices so… Un-pubby. Finally, stealing an idea from @CINEMAPALETTES, we spent a few minutes coming up with these.
1. Classic Pub
2. 1960s Pub
Even allowing for the difference in the style of photo — the former was snapped by one of us on a smartphone in afternoon light; the latter looks stage-lit and Technicolor gaudy — that’s quite a difference.
We might do a few more and add them to this post as we go. It would be interesting to look at a full-on craft beer bar, for example, most of which, we suspect, would be shades of cream and grey. And Samuel Smith pubs would be brown, dark brown, darker brown and black-brown, right?
Maurice Gorham’s best-known books on pubs are The Local (1939) and Return to the Local (1949), neither of which we have yet read. What we did acquire, thanks to a tip from Herb Lester, was a battered copy of Inside the Pub (1950), a pub designer’s manual which Gorham wrote with Harding McGregor (‘H. McG.’) Dunnet for the Architectural Press.
It’s an interesting book for various reasons but what leapt out at us were the opening lines of the introduction by J.M. Richards, on the subject of the alchemy of pub atmosphere:
If I were asked what are the qualities I would like to find in a pub I would say simply, ‘the right atmosphere’, and if asked to be a little more precise I would say that the right atmosphere is one which provides warmth, cheerfulness and a sense of seclusion and one in which the charm of the familiar is somehow combined with a sense of something intriguing just round the corner. A pub should make people feel at home and yet have the capacity to lift them a little out of themselves.
Later in the book, Dunnet says that many pubs built just before the war suffer from the lack of nooks and dividers, offering only a ‘large bleak interior’; they are sometimes ‘indistinguishable from post offices or banks’; they ‘deny the whole pub tradition and only succeed in discouraging the customer from joining his cronies round the kitchen chimney corner’.
We can think of a few pubs to which that description would apply.
When we went to the Craft Beer Company with a not-especially-beery mate last week, we got to see the power of branding in action.
Faced with a vast array of pumps, slightly anxious at too much choice, and aware of the queue behind him, our chum made a snap decision: he went for Magic Rock Curious. Why? Because the design stood out as professional, stylish and interesting. Because it leapt off the bartop shouting: “Buy me!”
Sadly, there was none left, and he had to settle for another beer suggested by the barmaid. As it turned out, it was every bit as nice as Curious, but we’d never have known that if left to our own devices, because its pumpclip looked like something from an A level art portfolio c.2002 — Photoshop for Dummies, posterise-everything amateur hour.
Design can’t be an afterthought, because, in the current competititve climate, it can mean the difference between a beer either selling briskly or quietly turning to vinegar in its cask. We punters — especially those of us who simply drink beer rather than obsessing over it — are fickle, superficial, shallow creatures.