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Reinventing the Museum Café: Apollo Bar & Kantine in Copenhagen

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Reinventing the Museum Café: Apollo Bar & Kantine in Copenhagen

November 6, 2017

After the success of Atelier September, Danish chef Frederik Bille Brahe’s Copenhagen café, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, the contemporary art museum of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts called on owner Bille Brahe to bring the vacant cafe space back to life. His answer: Apollo Bar & Kantine, which opened this past April.

Housed in the 17th-century Danish Baroque palace of Kunsthal Charlottenborg, the cafe space was empty and mostly gutted, save for plastic painted walls and old laminate tables. So Bille Brahe and Rune Bruun Johansen, a longtime friend and antiques dealer, set out to redesign the interior with statues borrowed from the museum, Danish midcentury furniture, and a color palette inspired by the academy library. Here’s a look.

Photography by Mikkel Adsbøl courtesy of Apollo Bar & Kantine.

The Kantine is a casual everyday canteen for Royal Danish Academy students and others. Bille Brahe serves &#8
Above: The Kantine is a casual everyday canteen for Royal Danish Academy students and others. Bille Brahe serves “unfussy” seasonal vegetarian lunch options at economical prices. The steel trolley cart is for used dishes and the industrial refrigerator keeps organic drinks cold. On top of the refrigerator is a potted palm and 1970s plaster wall lamps refashioned as tabletop lighting.
 The dining space has its original oak parquet floors, but Bille Brahe and Johansen repainted the walls in matte shell and accented the space with a dark gray paint inspired by the academy&#8
Above: The dining space has its original oak parquet floors, but Bille Brahe and Johansen repainted the walls in matte shell and accented the space with a dark gray paint inspired by the academy’s library shelving system.
Seating is made up of vintage Børge Mogensen 66 Oak Tables and J39 Chairs (repurposed from the academy&#8
Above: Seating is made up of vintage Børge Mogensen 6286 Oak Tables and J39 Chairs (repurposed from the academy’s classrooms). The blue chairs are the Result Chair, a design by Friso Kramer and Wim Rietveld and reproduced by Hay.
Detail of the hand-branded &#8
Above: Detail of the hand-branded “A” on the back of each vintage Møgensen chair to represent the Academy of Fine Arts (and Apollo).
Bille Brahe in the canteen; lit by Poul Henningsen Charlottenborg Lamps that were redesigned for the Kunsthal Charlottenborg in 79.
Above: Bille Brahe in the canteen; lit by Poul Henningsen Charlottenborg Lamps that were redesigned for the Kunsthal Charlottenborg in 1979.
The Apollo Bar is separate from Apollo Kantine—open morning through dinner—where Bille Brahe and staff serve small plates (Danish sweet buttermilk soup with berries, for example), drinks, and natural wines.
Above: The Apollo Bar is separate from Apollo Kantine—open morning through dinner—where Bille Brahe and staff serve small plates (Danish sweet buttermilk soup with berries, for example), drinks, and natural wines.
 Johansen designed square tables and banquettes in cherrywood that were built by local cabinetmakers. The upholstery is a bouclé woven fabric inspired by &#8
Above: Johansen designed square tables and banquettes in cherrywood that were built by local cabinetmakers. The upholstery is a bouclé woven fabric inspired by “fresh blue denim” Bille Brahe says.
A series of custom handblown glass lamps were made by a local Danish glassblower.
Above: A series of custom handblown glass lamps were made by a local Danish glassblower.
Bille Brahe and Johansen planned to paint the base of the bar in black, but after coating it with a bright red primer, the unexpected color was &#8
Above: Bille Brahe and Johansen planned to paint the base of the bar in black, but after coating it with a bright red primer, the unexpected color was “too bold and beautiful to cover with black,” so they left it as-is. The top of the bar is Danish granite and on it is a rotating flower arrangement (often roses from Bille Brahe’s childhood garden brought in by his father).
Behind the bar is a pale yellow painted backsplash, glass and steel shelves, and a pair of vintage table lamps.
Above: Behind the bar is a pale yellow painted backsplash, glass and steel shelves, and a pair of vintage table lamps.
Another sculpture borrowed from the museum sits atop glass bar shelving.
Above: Another sculpture borrowed from the museum sits atop glass bar shelving.
The barstools are Piet Hein for Fritz Hansen that Johansen upholstered with blue velvet.
Above: The barstools are Piet Hein for Fritz Hansen that Johansen upholstered with blue velvet.
Apollo is always evolving. “I don’t believe in &#8
Above: Apollo is always evolving. “I don’t believe in ‘finished’ spaces,” Bille Brahe says “it’s the people using the spaces—the guests and staff—that create life and help define the setting.”

The courtyard leading into Apollo & Bar and Kantine at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. The chairs are the HAY Palissade Outdoor Armchair in white.
Above: The courtyard leading into Apollo & Bar and Kantine at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. The chairs are the HAY Palissade Outdoor Armchair in white.
Apollo Bar & Kantine is located at Nyhavn 2, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen. Follow them on Instagram @apollo_bar and @apollo_kantine.

For more on Frederik Bille Brahe and other Copenhagen favorites, see our posts:

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