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Illuminated Onyx Bar Top Sexy Fish Manchester

Illuminated Onyx Bar Top at Sexy Fish Restaurant in Manchester

Our role in creating a paradise of glowing pink onyx and the most Instagrammable women’s powder room in the UK

We are proud and delighted to have played a creative part in the launch of one of Manchester’s most glamorous venues – Sexy Fish in the city’s prestigious Spinningfields area.

Sexy Fish Manchester is an Asian restaurant and bar, serving Japanese-inspired sushi, sashimi, seafood, fish, and meat cooked on a Robata grill and served amidst high-end glamourous and surreal décor that enjoys many benefits created by our in-house expertise and ingenuity. 

An illuminated onyx bar top, a men’s washroom resplendent in backlit alabaster and possibly the most Instagramable women’s powder room in the UK all feature Unibox innovations rubbing shoulders with artwork by Damien Hirst (among others) in the opulent surroundings.

Sexy Fish has established itself as one of the globe’s leading restaurant concepts, with the Manchester venue becoming the third worldwide after openings in London’s Mayfair and Miami’s bustling Brickell district.

Our involvement in this amazing success story came about via our collaborations with the UK-wide Ivy Collection of restaurants – where we have engineered illuminated floors for The Ivy Asia restaurants – as both businesses are part of Caprice Holdings, owned by billionaire Richard Caring, whose hospitality empire includes Mayfair members’ club Annabel’s.

Image by: Johnny Stephens

A paradise of glowing pink onyx, glass and mosaics

Our work is always carried out following extensive research and development to engineer systems according to our clients’ exacting specifications, following strict guidelines on the colour temperature, lumen output, and power consumption of the LEDs used.

The concept of an illuminated pink translucent onyx bar top first became a reality at Sexy Fish in Miami, but limitations with readily available products on the market meant they were unable to uniformly illuminate the entire bar top. 

As one of the largest manufacturers of custom luminaires in the UK, we were able to easily solve this problem for the venues in London and Manchester, using our extensive in-house CNC laser cutting and engraving facilities, and proprietary software for achieving uniform illumination.

The light panels we created were able to uniformly illuminate the whole of the bar’s 500mm deep surface, whilst also illuminating the bullnosed overhang, which was left completely unlit on the original. 

Matt Burns, our Head of Design, says: “We came up with a way of illuminating the whole shape of the curved bar surface, including the bullnose overhang (which is also curved). The finished effect with the pinkish hue from the onyx looks amazing, it screams luxury and produces real theatre, which it needs to do when there is artwork by some of the world’s leading artists hanging on the walls.

“Working from (technical) drawings for the timber bar structure, we designed and manufactured an array of light panels that would guarantee a homogenous amount of light across the whole surface. All the light panels can be be dimmed together, so the surface isn’t too light, or too dim, in relation to the ambient lighting.

“As we do with all of our projects, once we had the drawings and the brief, we experimented with a few prototypes to make sure we have no cold spots. We then made a full size working mock-up, that we took to site to share with the Sexy Fish design committee for approval.

It’s important that we do it this way so the client can see for themselves that we have overcome all the challenges and created what they have requested.

Matt Burns, Unibox Head of Design

We completed the bar’s dramatic impact with uplit glass shelves that illuminate the premium bottles being stored on them, an effective concept we first perfected for a whisky cabinet at the London restaurant.

Image by: Johnny Stephens

The finished effect has since been described as

a paradise of glowing pink onyx, glass and mosaics

by leading food critic William Sitwell, reviewing Sexy Fish Manchester for The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Extending the pink paradise to the women’s powder room

Pink is also the theme in what must be one of the most Instagramable women’s powder rooms in the UK, if not further afield. So much so, The Ivy, Sexy Fish’s corporate stablemate, took to its own social media channels to highlight how many times the room has featured on Instagram! 

Our role in this highly photogenic location is the creation and installation of RGBW (red, green, blue and white) light panels under the decorative agate floor tiles that shine predominantly pink but transform to different hues depending on the time of day – another solution created at the client’s request and made possible by following a similar process to that employed to create the ‘paradise of glowing pink’ in the bar area.

The floor is complemented by pink mosaic walls (not our work) that feature different projected images, with the theme again changing depending on the time of day.

Images by: Johnny Stephens

Classy as opposed to sassy!

Our most understated work at Sexy Fish Manchester is the men’s washroom. 

Whilst the women’s equivalent is a chamber of deep pink in many different hues, the men’s room is 

conservative in comparison, featuring neutral coloured alabaster backlit walls using our light panels, which arch up and over the washbasins to frame the mirrored back wall. Backlit alabaster also adorns the rest of the washroom.

The result is a masculine haven that’s classy as opposed to sassy!

Image by: Chris Carter

A collaborative mindset at all times

All of our projects using backlighting techniques eschew traditional methodologies by incorporating the controls and fittings into the fabric of the building, thus removing the need to deep recesses to accommodate technical equipment.

And all of our installations consider the fire safety systems in the buildings we work in, allow for easy access to all controls and the need for access for maintenance reasons.

All elements of the Sexy Fish kit out were done in collaboration with the relevant teams building the bar and the other facilities in which our unique work features – a teamwork mindset that applies to all our projects.

If you’re currently working on a project that involves lighting, or would like to speak to any of the people responsible for delivering this project, contact us today at [email protected]