Esteemed architects Baranowitz + Kronenberg (B+K) have unveiled the studio’s interior design concept for Helena, a captivating new wine bar set within the prestigious backdrop of the recently renovated Eyal Ofer Pavilion, an extension to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Helena celebrates the second project completed by B+K for the museum, the first being the award-wining Pastel Brasserie and Bar.
The Pavilion for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv was inaugurated in 1959, owing to a donation made by the cosmetics mogul Helena Rubinstein and has carried her name ever since. Designed to resonate with the new spirit of a country in the making, it bears the minimal necessities: ‘a building that contains nothing that is not necessary for it to contain’ (Ya’akov Rechter, Pavilion Architect). After undergoing a significant two-year refurbishment spearheaded by The Eyal & Marilyn Ofer Family Foundation, the Pavilion re-opens as ‘The Eyal Ofer Building for the Arts’ with the introduction of the new wine bar, with interiors concepted by B+K.
Paying homage to the Pavilion’s initial founder and to the collective memory of the city of Tel Aviv, it seemed only natural to keep Helena Rubinstein’s presence intact. Helena served B+K with the opportunity to explore an alternative for blending cities’ cultural institutions into our daily life with the prospect of rendering them more sustainable. Believing that cities cannot afford single programme space any longer, B+K conceived Helena first and foremost as a city destination in its own right, suggesting a new relationship between the city and its art Pavilion with the intention of transforming it to an event space that hosts ‘la vie quotidian.’
Helena is the beating heart of the Pavilion, located within the double-heighted entrance hall underneath the newly added mezzanine. Running in parallel to the galleries, it enjoys a surprising independence and an intimate spatial quality that sets it apart from its counterparts. Embraced by lush gardens, Helena provides a welcoming retreat where art enthusiasts and locals alike can immerse themselves in a cultural sanctuary.
Open to all, it is a relaxing space to meet, connect and breaks preconceived notions of ‘art’ in the contemporary world. The thoughtfully designed space is a true integration of different functions in time and space; B+K has transformed it into an agora of sorts that invites endless possibilities. After hours, Helena keeps the energy alive in the Pavilion by infusing the space with ‘the art of living’ and an invigorating DJ.
Resonating with the oak barrels used for the fermentation process of winemaking, Helena interiors are conceived in oak and similarly to the architectural vision, it ‘contains nothing that is not necessary for it to contain.’ The spatial proportions have been meticulously calculated based on the size of a wine bottle, which not only shapes the design but also governs the available space. While the lower level of Helena resonates with the familiar rhythm of city life, the mezzanine level offers a slower pace of living where visitors can escape the hustles and bustle. Here, softer furnishings and an intimate bar render the area with an air of an inclusive members club.