Italian Life in the FiftiesDuring the early fifties, the horrors of World War Two lingered both in the mind and in the economy of Europe. Across the continent, the public were desperate to forget rationing, to forget deprivation and dilapidation and, in Italy in particular, people were still determined to enjoy themselves. During these post-way years Italy became a hub of creativity, forming the base for a new generation of innovative minds. From a cultural viewpoint, the years after World War Two began the transformation of Italy into the modern country we know today.
These back-street cafes were filled within the hour of their opening and consequently patrons would bump shoulders so that soon there were times when everyone in the bar knew each other. These cafes were pure celebrations of the aperitvo hour - Italy’s stop-gap between lunch and late dinner, that glorious time in which to unwind from work and begin the evening. Spritz after Spritz would nourish a whole post-war generation where labourers, writers, artists, musicians and the occasional crime lord would eat, drink and cause a rabble. When we came across Colebrooke Row, it was clear that this was a venue that had the potential to encapsulate the alluring Italian café style. Tucked away in the corner of a dead-end, North London street no. 69 has a light footfall and this ensured that people would have to seek out the bar on purpose. The space inside was small, with a beautiful original staircase creeping up the back, inspiring a living-room feel.
Simplicity is the most difficult thing in the worldIn terms of furnishings, although the bar should be stylish, it was essential that at all costs it didn’t come across as vain. We looked closely at timeless Italian designers such as Vico Magistretti, Gae Aulenti and the Castiglioni brothers all of whom immortalised themselves by promoting streamline, intuitive designs that shunned excess. When questioned about his methods of work Magistretti often commented ‘la semplicita’ e’la cosa piu’ difficile del mondo’: simplicity is the most difficult thing in the world, and this statement resonated with the Colebrooke ethos.
|Gae Aulenti Table Design|
Bygone days of Italian lifestyle and design may have inspired the bar but a passion for modern techniques and innovation as an applied philosophy control the product expertly crafted by the Colebrooke bartenders.
|The Castiglioni Brothers|