Bars & Leisure Focus: Project Bar Vasari Amsterdam

DESIGN AGENCY UXUS was commissioned by Dutch investment management company Amerborgh to develop the design of Huis Vasari, a new cultural space housed in a striking 17th century canal house along the Herengracht in the centre of Amsterdam.


Built in 1660 by Dutch classicist architect Philip Vingboon, the historic building was home to the Cromhout family for nearly two centuries and since the 1970s has remained a state monument. Until recently, the building housed The Cromhout Museum and The Biblical Museum.

Amerborgh has sympathetically restored the building and renamed it after the Italian art historian Giorgio Vasari. Huis Vasari will incorporate Amerborgh’s recently acquired Vrije Academie, a national educational institute for art. Lectures will take place in the historic, frescoed rooms, while alongside the academy, the building will also house creative businesses, retail and hospitality, and will welcome a mix of visitors, educators and entrepreneurs.

UXUS were appointed to design Bar Vasari, a new restaurant, cafe and espresso bar on the lower ground floor, along with the reception, waiting area and a retail space selling art, books and gifts on the ground floor of the building.

Existing architecture has been accentuated using mirror inserts and recessed paint finishes, while the furniture used throughout pays tribute to Italian midcentury design. Elevated materials punctuate the space to create a dynamic and contemporary feel including white marble, textured warm wood, brushed brass detailing alongside elegantly used paint finishes across the different spaces, as well as Thonet chairs.

The restaurant, cafe and bar area consists of three distinctive spaces on the ground floor. The mid-century Milanese espresso bar central to the design features marble high tables and wooden high chairs and creates an everyday informal setting, inviting people to gather and enjoy a quick espresso, glass of wine or a cocktail.

The retail space displays a variety of art, objects and books that can be purchased by browsing visitorsThe retail space displays a variety of art, objects and books that can be purchased by browsing visitors

The garden room features cafe seating with the original fireplace and wall sconces having been retained, with the addition of brass table lights. The private dining space which seats eight guests and is located in the authentic 17th century kitchen features the original stove and built-in cabinets alongside contemporary furniture including pastel green upholstered chairs.

The retail space features wooden shelving and a central layered table which provides space for the display of art, objects and books available for purchase. The existing wooden ceiling has been retained and is echoed in the timber and marble counter.

George Gottl, co-founder and chief creative officer at UXUS, said: ‘We wanted to create a complete brand experience for Huis Vasari and The Vrije Academie comprising a welcoming reception, retail space and dining experience. It has been incredible yet challenging to work on a space with such a rich history and we approached the design to sensitively treat original features, paying tribute to the architecture while also elevating the space to create a contemporary consumer experience, look and feel.’

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