The Swingers popup that Superglue produced for the Institute of Competitive Socializing in 2015 proved to be one of London’s most successful popups, securing £3 million in investment for a permanent site. The new venue design is by architect Mike Morris of MDMA and interior design is by Zachary Pulman. It features a spectacular two storey clubhouse with mezzanine gin terrace and street food kitchen. Mike and Zachary worked hard to create a truly innovative space that delivers on a breathtaking scale.
This time, located in the heart of the city at the foot of the iconic Gherkin, the venue would be home to two crazy golf courses, four permanent food traders and numerous bars and dining areas.
Working alongside a buildings contractor and interior designer, our brief was to provide set and scenic dressing to integrate the Swingers brand identity into all elements of the site and add character and a genuine, human lived in feel to the venue.
Key Dressing Areas
The flashing neon Swingers sign above the main entrance is an important first impression.
The hedges, which line the entrance walkway draw your eye to the main door while also providing a smart, weatherproof, durable, and importantly, free standing solution – improving the look of the railings and concealing the small car park area. We attached the hedges to planter boxes, which we filled with cement. The planter boxes were then filled with geraniums, which are glued into the cement. It is virtually impossible to remove the plants, which are both fire and UV retardant. As such they will still look as good years in the future as they did when they were planted.
The planting in Swingers is one of the most visually stimulating elements of the venue. It is fundamental to the look of the space and totally transforms the rough looking building, setting this indoor golf venue apart from it competitors. For this reason most of our budget was focused in this area.
We designed a scheme that oozes a quintessentially English country garden feel. We wanted the courses to look like they had been abandoned for a few years with climbers creeping wildly across the course’s various tricks shots and jumps of the course.
Zoned areas give both courses interest with different textures and colour pallets. These include large tree sculptures which light up when someone finishes the course and pagodas covered in grape vine, wisteria, geraniums and morning glory. The creeping ivy works with the architecture of the venue making the most of the rough and cracked of the walls, and grasses subtly gathered around the bases of the lighthouse and the windmill also act as a barrier to stop balls flying off.
The planting carries on upstairs in the light and airy gin terrace with beautifully planted balcony areas that look out over the course.
As the venue is an underground space there is no natural daylight and so only artificial plants could be used. It was important that the plants provided a fresh outside feel to the space and for that they needed to be very realistic.
As always the biggest restrictions with artificial plants in spaces like this is fire retardancy and as all of the plants are accessible to guests everything needed to be completely fire retardant to ensure safety.
The range of fire retardant plants available in the UK is limited. So we sourced plants made from a specific material that we could treat off site before installing them. This meant we could expand the range extensively and ensure the plants adhered to regulations.
The effect of the plants creates a truly immersive feel in the site but also act as a mask hiding some of the unfinished and rough looking walls and pillars. As the space is underground and is packed with features, a key challenge was to ensure the venue felt open and airy, rather than closed in and cramped.
The plants are a key part of the course, so we designed a concept that adds to, rather than detracts from, the playability of the holes.
Nearly all of the internal signage at Swingers are hand painted by our team of scenic artists.
The hand-made look is immediately recognisable and oozes quality. The painted signs we created deliver the retro-sophisticated feel of the venue that would have been almost impossible to achieve via printed media.
We produced all artwork across the venue. In places these provide fantastic photo opportunities for guests and a branding opportunity for sponsors. This is no more obvious than on the winner’s podium. Sitting directly underneath the leader board we positioned a large format graphic here with a lady flying on a Friexient Bottle, one of Swingers key sponsors. This way everyone taking a selfie after a big win leaves with a Friexinet brand impression.
Props and Clubhouse Dressing
The main photo opportunity on site however has to be our vintage golf buggy.
The brief was to create a centerpiece for the course, which could be sponsored by Mean Time. We also needed something functional that could hold all of the putters and balls at the beginning of the course. The solution needed to work for both the Swingers and Mean Time brand look and feel.
We sourced a very rare three-wheeler buggy and lovingly restored it to include new paintwork in Swingers blue, leather seats (in Swingers Grey) branded steering wheel and the all important glass holder. Vinyl was then applied to the front and rear with the Mean Time logos on.
The devil is in the detail when weaving a brand across a site like this and it’s important customers experience it at every touch point. We worked with the Swingers team to produce bespoke reserved signs, cloakroom tickets, postcards, flyers, scorecards and pencils to name but a few.
The venue is peppered with actual golfing artefacts to make it more genuine, including old trophies, pictures and other props.
We continue to work with Swingers to maintain the planting, add to and tweak the scenic artistry and ensure fire retardency is maintained across the course.
Jane and her theatrical dressers have done an incredible job of creating a stunning English country garden setting in the heart of the City that is unique and is loved by our customers. Where it could of been tacky and fake it’s very realistic and actually very beautiful. We look forward to continuing to work with Superglue to maintain and develop the Swingers dressing.