The Newcastle-based interior design, architecture and visualisation studio, Dakota House of Design (Dakota), has been shortlisted for an international industry award for its project ‘Soho’ in Basel, Switzerland.

The Dakota team works extensively in the hospitality, leisure and residential sectors and with major brands such as Premium Country Pubs, Best Western Hotels, Giraffe restaurants and the European casinos belonging to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  They began working on Soho, a bar situated on Steinenforstadt, one of Basel’s busiest pedestrianised streets, at the end of 2015.

The company’s appointment came about because Arton Krasniqi of Gastro Basel had seen and liked many of Dakota’s past projects in Europe and London.   His brief was to create a modern twist on a classical theme within a former three-storey shoe shop, which was to be converted by his architect into a shell, ready for fit out.  He wanted his customers to have a banqueting or sharing party experience, not dissimilar historically to that of many European residences.

Now, only three months after its official launch, Dakota’s managing director, Peter Hodgson, is thrilled to discover that his company is one of only six finalists in the iDogi 2016 International Architecture and Design Awards.

iDogi Group, the Venetian company, known for the custom manufacture of artistic chandeliers and tables, launched its awards programme to recognise projects capable of expressing an original interpretation of a classic style of interior decorating. The presentation ceremony will be held in Venice later this month and will feature the work of studios from many countries throughout the world.

Commenting on Dakota’s design solution, Peter said:  “Our client wanted to incorporate a night club in the basement, breakfasts followed by lunches and snacks throughout the day on the ground floor and with a bar on the mezzanine level.  We decided to use classical elements in a more contemporary style, but stripped back. The main feature on entry is the double height illuminated back bar and because planting was very important to classical interiors,  the finishes on the main wall were softened using a full height, 1500mm wide panelling of planting, lit from both above and below.

“Arton was delighted because we have faithfully recreated our initial visual for Soho and really brought our idea to life.  More importantly for Dakota, the bar has been such a tremendous hit with the people of Basel because of its memorable atmosphere that Gastro Basel is actively seeking further venues to replicate this one.

“The team has worked really hard on this project and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking everyone for their great work as well as Pringle Contracts of Blaydon, who undertook the construction, because they really know how to put a bar together.  Now we are looking forward to travelling to Venice to see how we measure up to the other finalists.  Even if we don’t win, we are absolutely thrilled to get this far.”

Adding his praise for the venue, Mr Krasniqi said:  “Our goal was to bring a stripped back, contemporary approach to the indoor outdoor style and flair of a classical theme to our bar in Basel.  Dakota not only accomplished that goal by far, but also managed to keep the right balance between the industrial look and feel and a cosy atmosphere in which you want to spent time with your friends”.

Peter, who lives in Jesmond, established Dakota in 2008 with his wife Deborah. The company now employs 10 staff and provides cutting edge interior design, architecture and visualisation services to the hospitality, leisure and residential sectors.

Dakota is currently working on a range of exciting projects for Novus Leisure (London), the biggest operator of late night venues in London, including Agenda Bar and Abbey Bar in the City of London and Tiger Tiger in Leicester Square as well as the refurbishment of seven Premium Country Pubs throughout the country for Mitchells & Butlers.