The story of Whey Fit Bar is quite long, so I will summarize in the form of a math equation.
My husband Mike Dahl (furthest left in the top photo) + his long time dream of owning a fitness or health related business + a Saturday night wedding about two years ago with Ryan Barry (furthest right in the top photo) + the original website (that was at first intended as an online supplement store, and originally the business name was “DBSupplements”) + an open space in the gym Mike worked out in + smartly impulsive and dreamy decisions
…okay let’s continue…
+ Mike’s brother Brian Dahl (middle in photo) + their joint love of food and kitchen experiments + hard work + risk taking + a ton of passion – lots of sleep – a normal life & routine = The birth of Whey Fit Bar.
This blog post is mostly about the design of the space, but I am so personally invested in the business, that I am having to refrain myself from writing an emotional novel about how proud I am of Mike, Ryan, and Brian. All of them have full time jobs outside of Whey Fit Bar, and all of them have other things they could be doing. Mike has me and Ari, and I’m pretty high maintenance, so like, there’s that. Brian is a newly wed. Ryan is in school, works full time, and is dating like three girls..so yeah..clearly this business is a labor of love for them, a sacrifice if you will, that will ideally be worth it all in the end. I can totally relate. And really, I don’t think I’m that high maintenance, I just need normal things, like food, and family time, and someone to be available to get me taco bell at 10 pm if need be. Also, Ryan isn’t really dating three girls, I made that up. I just imagined it. I thought it would add to the whole story about how they are busy but still make it all work.
A paragraph of proud-ness is perfectly acceptable in my opinion, but now onto the design.
Whey Fit Bar is a healthy smoothie bar + supplement shop. Online as well. It is located inside of Powerhouse Gym on Shelbyville Road (if your not Louisville local, then I’m sure you don’t care. I wouldn’t care either). The actual bar space is where the child care space used to be. It’s where I used to take Ari while I worked out. And by that I mean, it’s where I used to take Ari so he could have a screaming cry fest for 10 minutes until I was asked to relieve him hence why I don’t have abs yet. Just kidding, I don’t have abs because I love cookies. Every day.
Yes, it’s true, underneath all of the coolness of Whey Fit Bar, are murals of Disney Characters, cheering the team on I suppose. I like the “before” picture below because it shows the open space before we built the bar, although, it’s not entirely true to the before look, as there used to be walls!
Designing a commercial space has been a dream of an experience for me. I will absolutely be pursing more of that. First of all, I love when people trust me creatively, and secondly, I love being the boss (not bossy..or maybe sometimes, but that’s a work in progress). I love meeting with builders and being a part of the entire process from start to finish. From graph paper sketch outs to the end photo shoot. I am beyond thankful that Mike, Brian, and Ryan basically just handed over creative freedom to me. They trusted me. They understood the process, even on the days where the space may have appeared to be in complete design chaos. For this, I am so thankful. The only thing that could have made working on this commercial retail space better, would have been if they handed me over an unlimited budget. Which they didn’t.
Let’s talk about the design + beginning inspiration. The vibe of the space began with a mood. Which isn’t always the starting point, many times the vibe begins with a color for me. The mood needed to be a direct parallel to the customers and current space, which are gym folks and those who wish to eat healthier and live consciously within their food regimens. The space needed to feel strong, current, raw, industrial-esque, handcrafted, vibrant, and it also needed to be complimentary to fruit and food colors, as they are selling smoothies. Puke green although a very lovely color, probably would have pushed the customers away. The word “handcrafted” was one of my favorite inspiration words for the space, because it relates on so many levels. Mike constantly talks about how bodybuilding is a craft, and a constant work in progress, and I’ve really latched on to that. In my mind of course, wow, not in real life. Anyway, handcrafted is also related to the smoothies they sell. Much thought and calculating has gone into the development of healthy yet tasty smoothies. Lastly, handcrafted is something I as the designer can related to. A space that feels so them, crafted by me.
Purple is a deep and strong color, and it only felt natural that the color story begin there. For vibrancy, a citrine yellow was used, a color opposite of purple on the color wheel. It’s funny, I actually normally would never recommend this intense of a color palette in a residential space, like a bedroom, or living room, but here, it was necessary. You know how they say you eat with your eyes first? Well the same is true with any commercial retail space. Customers first need to connect with the look, and then secondly give the products a try.
To give complexity to a single color, we used tints and shades and other variations of the color purple, which is evident in barn wood bar counter, and the menu system. The menu system is designed to be ever-changing. Velcro on the back, and square blocks that can be changed depending on the season/seasonal fresh smoothies, or upon popularity of a certain “smoothie of the day”. You know, like if a smoothie that was just temporary, became so popular, it might make it’s way to the menu board. Popularity ain’t easy, you gotta work your way up, little smoothies.
I’m used to working with home items, like pillows, accessories, and books. But at Whey Fit Bar, the accessories needed to be actual products. I was able to style the product shelving up a little bit, with two framed Arnold Schwarzenneger photographs, and cute little cactus plants. The Arnold pics were a gift to Mike from me, a few years back. The frames are from an estate sale, and the photos are something I found online. The cactus plants are living in concrete planters, another “strong” material that subtly relates back to their desired customer.
Although there has been some weird revolution of chalk board things in the world, I too needed to jump on that train for this space. Because the thing is, is that chalk boards make so much sense, especially here, when sales and smoothie flavors are constantly changing. A chalk board provides instant and free communication with the customer, no additional printing needed.
The smoothie below is the “DahlBarry”, one of the most popular smoothies that they sell. Truthfully, I prefer the Pina Colada, because I like to live on the edge like that, but I hear great things about this DahlBarry. A play on words, named after the owners last name, not a typo, people.
Check out that fancy check out system. Seriously. It’s so clean and well designed. I love that it’s white, and sleek, and glossy, and tech-y. When I worked at the smoothie bar at Golds Gym on Dixie highway about nine years ago, we used a cash register. Move along you old cash register, because Clover is in town. How interesting though, really, that I worked at a smoothie bar, and now my husband owns one?
I love this shot below. It’s such a well designed set-up. Purple plays a big role, but it’s actually the yellow that carries your eye around the photo. Bananas, weights on the menu, protein bar packaging, bar front, and back on around. I used to tell my art students that all the time, that a successful piece of art grabs the viewers attention, and continues to carry their eye around the page.
Whey Fit Bar, Louisville Ky
Local to Louisville: Visit 1201 Shelbyville Rd, Lou Ky.
Not Local: Shop Online @ WheyFitBar.Com
Need a coupon: Click here
All Photographs were taken by Louisville based photographer, Quinton Vanmeter.
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Follow Lauren Along @DahlHouseInteriors