Commercial & Workplace

Barnato Entertainment Venue

What started out as the vision of three successful entrepreneurs to realize a particular shared dream has become a must-visit West Omaha bar, lounge, and entertainment venue (and speakeasy, shhhhh…).

Bringing a classy-yet-casual vibe to West O, Barnato (bar-nah-toe) is a unique foray into flexible entertainment with a shape-shifting identity. It is, depending on the time and day: a chill, happy-hour cocktail lounge with voyeuristic windows onto luxury Bentley sports cars; an intimate live music venue with flawless acoustics and extensive wine list; an after-hours dance club with state-of-the-art sound and lighting; a time-warped, up-scale back room with over 300 different whiskeys.

The physical space, previously a market-style grocery, presented a welcome challenge for BVH: how to design a bespoke, retro-fit transformation, from the larger concept down to the details, within humble, predetermined boundaries. The initial design concept, developed through owner collaboration, was a centennial-inspired dialogue between 1920s art, fashion, and design culture of prohibition-era United States and the elite, yet rough-and-tumble English racing culture of the same time period. The venue, in fact, takes its name from Woolf Barnato – the successful Le Mans racing driver and one of the “Bentley Boys,” a cadre of larger-than-life characters known for their lavish parties.

The intent of the built work, however, was not to replicate a time period, but to mindfully co-opt references to produce a new, unexpected outcome. The realization of the project, fittingly, was achieved through a versatile combination of advanced technologies and ageless hand craftsmanship. The dynamic, diamond-patterned steel signage canopy at the entry was designed through digital parametric modeling and precision machine-fabricated, while the upholstered booths inside the lounge were hand measured, stitched, and button-tufted onto wood framing. The slatted white oak stage canopy was CNC-milled for precision alignment and concealing programmable LED lighting, while the rich white oak and walnut bar tops were hand shaped and lacquered on site.

The architectural design team specifically addressed each interior finish, element of furniture, material selection, and installation detail to bring varied and rich textures for complete sensory immersion. The design team also updated mechanical systems, electrical controls, and kitchen systems to provide for catering of large events or venue rentals. Carefully curated lighting brings hints of film noir and art deco parlor parties but also provides complete dimming control for precise light levels depending on the event.

Photography by Dana Damewood Photography & William Hess Photography
Previous ProjectNext Project

Stay Up-to-Date!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, events highlights, work launches and articles.