Plus One: new backstage bar at Manchester Arena

plus one manchester

A new backstage bar has been created at Manchester Arena for the venue’s 20th anniversary

For 20 years, Manchester Arena has been entertaining people with music and comedy from the likes of U2, The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga and Peter Kay. Formerly known as the MEN Arena and, more recently, the Phones4u Arena, it reverted to its current name in January to coincide with its 20th exclusive backstage bar, transforming a 250 sq m space into the Plus One bar.

With 88 covers and additional space for 40 people standing, it was developed with Manchester-based creative studio NoChintz which led on the bar’s identity, design and branding. For the interior, they took inspiration from different musical and stage references as well as the city itself. Bespoke graphics based on scientific vibration patterns have been printed directly onto table tops, while song lyrics from prominent Manchester bands have been hand illustrated and scanned before being applied directly to internal walls. An arena crowd scene has been made into a feature in the bathrooms.

Alongside studio-style lighting and bespoke microphone installations, drum stools and upholstered flight cases have been used as seating throughout. Other features included a large mesh panel installation applied to the walls behind the bespoke fixed seating, resembling sound level controls on an amplifier.

plus one manchester

Other walls were kept simple using concrete-effect finishes and muted colours to set off the bar’s bright orange branding. The main entrance to the bar has the same orange branding, which spills on to the floor in a spotlight arrangement, alongside custom painted graphics on the walls and doors. The team chose commercial laminate flooring laid in a large-scale herringbone pattern throughout the space and concrete-effect tiling to the toilet areas.

“Music, stage and the city of Manchester are at the core of the design for Plus One and these all underpinned the project from start to finish,” explains NoChintz director Natalie Gray. “Major design features such as the amplifiers combined with subtle touches such as the drum stools work together to create an environment which is unmistakably linked to the Arena itself.” With Taylor Swift, One Direction, Madonna and other global stars lined up this year, it now has a backstage bar to suit its status as one of the busiest venues in the world and the largest indoor arena in Europe.

Plus One, Manchester Arena, Victoria Station, Hunts Bank, Manchester M3 1AR

plus one manchester

Behind the scenes
Interior design, feature lighting, fixed seating: NoChintz
Flooring: Amtico
Signage: Astra Signs

Originally published in the April 2015 print edition of Bar magazine

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