The Refuge by Volta

Interior Designer

Michaelis Boyd

Light fittings supplied

the complete decorative lighting scheme

The Refuge by Volta was one of Manchester’s most anticipated openings in 2016 and is a collaboration between DJ’s turned restaurateurs Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford and The Principal Manchester. 

The restaurant occupies part of the former Refuge Assurance Building.

Combining an eclectic mix of design features within this iconic venue, the interior designers from Michaelis Boyd have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of electrifying opulence against the backdrop of the glorious neo Gothic Victorian architecture. 

Working together with the designers, Northern Lights supplied a wide range of decorative lighting throughout the 10,000sq ft space. The mid-century style and industrial fittings help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere as well as making sure the heritage elements were plain for all to see.

At the 40ft long granite bar, which has an impressive 18 drinks taps, a row of giant wall lights with ribbed glass shades and blackened steel metalwork add industrial chic to the dramatic bottle wall. The circular chandeliers featuring frosted glass tubes inject a touch of sophisticated glamour. Metal screens with integrated LED strips were installed around the pillars, protecting as well as showcasing the exquisite ornamental details. 

In the main restaurant, the mid-century inspired pendants featuring opal glass balls are set off by bespoke brass frames. The banquette lighting along the window uses a similar brass finish with more contemporary smoked dark grey glass balls. Along the seating booths, the integrated table lamps with clear glass ball provide soft ambience lighting. Instead of the metal screen used in the bar, bespoke column lights were developed to showcase the pillars. 

In the Den, an open multi-function place, single opal glass ball pendants are used to create a subtle link between the different areas. The plywood seating lamps with natural birch finish and spun shades bring in modern flair, complementing the ambience of the space. 

No wonder the opening of The Refuge was so anticipated….

Photography: Tim Winter