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The Refuge By Volta

Occupying part of the former Refuge Assurance building, this venue certainly isn’t lacking in original features, high ceilings and beautiful spaces.

Interior designer

Michaelis Boyd




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

Fittings supplied

All Bespoke Decorative Lighting

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. Occupying part of the former Refuge Assurance building, this venue certainly isn’t lacking in original features, high ceilings and beautiful spaces.

Working together with the designers, Northern Lights supplied a wide range of bespoke lighting throughout the 10,000sq ft space. Michaelis Boyd were not going to be satisfied browsing lighting shops in Manchester; this venue needed decorative lighting that could stand up to the grandeur of the space. The mid-century modern lighting was perfect for lighting the area without overpowering the original features. Warm, welcoming and honest was the brief.

At the 40ft long granite bar, a row of giant wall lights with ribbed glass shades and blackened steel metalwork add industrial chic to the dramatic back bar, framed by some of the grand victorian pillars found throughout. Above the visitors sits a collection of mid-century modern chandeliers. These bespoke light features are home to dozens of hand-blown Murano glass tubes that refract the light from within. The organic process means each Murano glass tube is unique and therefore casts its own unique shadow. Large bespoke column lights encase the pillars, protecting them as well as showcasing the exquisite ornamental details. With no screw fixings allowed due to each columns grade two listing, the fittings are designed to be spaced off on-site — each taking into account well over 100 years of tolerance.

In the main restaurant, the mid-century modern chandeliers feature light bespoke brass frames that suspend matt opal globes. The banquette lighting along the window uses a similar brass finish with more contemporary smoked dark grey glass globes. Along with the seating booths, the integrated bespoke table lights with clear glass globes provide soft ambient lighting. In this area, columns use a more mid-century modern column light, a minimal design which aims to show off even more extravagant detail where there is less risk of damage.

In the Den, an open multi-function place, single opal glass globe pendants are used to create a subtle link between the different areas. The plywood seating lamps with natural birch finish and silicone soft touch shades bring in a more Scandi feel for the relaxed wind-down area, perhaps to help signify the very different intentions in what is essentially one big space.

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