Situated in the heart of Liverpool city centre, The Black Rabbit Shot Company is an unusual and popular venue for nights out on Fleet Street. Designed by Snook Architects, the space aspires to take visitors on a modern day journey of world discovery.
The interior of ‘Black Rabbit’ is unusual and quirky to say the least, with psychedelic walls depicting a stand off between antelope and an ancient elephant, which is actually colour change RGB wallpaper. As the lighting colours change above the mural, different animals pop out – it confuses viewers, continues the animal theme and gives the party masses a multilayered decorative media piece.
As a cabinet of curiosity, the space is essentially a mausoleum, so heavy wash lighting floods the space in blue and purple hues, to enhance the disconcerting mausoleum effect. A dark lighting effect was desired with shafts of light for a great party venue when those shafts start to move.
Yet to ensure the space intrigued rather than depressed visitors, the edges are somewhat warmer and even camp in their glittery gold display cases of the macabre. This warmth emanates from the gold, glittering boxes, the warmer woods and the tattooed maroon leather booths.
Sunken into the walls the glass covered boxes features, amongst other oddities: a four legged chicken, a cluster of white mice- one dressed as the Pope, and even an alligator and a rabbit in a case together. The mouse dressed as the pope is giving eulogy to the masses, while the improbability of an armed bunny riding a dead alligator begs the question- did the bunny get the ‘gator?
Taxidermy is an idea the studio have wanted to explore for a while – the contemporary reinvention of the Victorian wonder room, where strange curiosities were exhibited for the delight (and sometimes disgust) of the visitor.
Gold ‘display cases’ to the side of the room were conceived as a kind of halfway house between museum box and disco paradise for the dead – very John Travolta with disco balls hanging from the ceiling, a ‘party skull’ and a detached skull – (its my party and I’ll cry if I want to).
Above the main bar is an exploding pigeon sculpture by Alex Randall and a Yorkshire Terrier ‘dead disco dog’ that is the bars mascot.
The tiled rose mosaic on the bar surround was chosen because the mosaic allowed easy curvature around the corners and the pattern reminded Snook of the climbing roses one might expect to find overgrown in a forgotten Parisian graveyard.
A post-modern gothic cornucopia of strange sights have been sourced from all over the globe, encouraging patrons to discover new sights, new sounds, new music, new drinks, and new people. The posters on the wall are in keeping with the Victorian wonder room theme, sourced either from Victorian freak shows or show tattooed Victorian ladies.
Snook says “the tattooed ladies are a further nod to both the Victorian era and the current fashion for bodily embellishment – a reminder that as well as getting drunk and indulging in other bodily pleasures, we’re all not really doing anything that they weren’t already doing 100 years ago.”
In Victorian times such an explorative and curious journey could be undertaken through a ‘Cabinet of Wonder’. A space filled with hundreds of different curiosities where hypnotised visitors would stare in wonder at strange and beguiling sights from around the world. The European equivalent of the ‘Cabinet of Wonder’ is ‘wunderkammer,’ which literally translates as ‘wonderoom’ – something Snook have worked very hard to achieve through the eclectic mix of curios.
Images © Andrew Haslam