3.wrks tucks N’Between, an izakaya-style listening bar, into New York’s Chelsea Market

On Repeat

N'Between with shelving for records

Since its opening in 1997, New York’s Chelsea Market has been a veritable hotspot for the best in bars, restaurants, and foodie culture—and it keeps reinventing itself. The converted industrial structure offers a whopping 1.2 million square feet of space for vendors from Anthropologie to Seed + Mill and Los Tacos No. 1.

Chelsea Market’s explosive popularity means you’re often battling crowds of tourists, noise, and the open-market-style stimulus of the bustling destination. What’s pleasantly refreshing is a new style of Chelsea Market vendor we’re watching, one that takes advantage of the building’s wings rather than its narrow central corridor.

passageway into N'Between
Neon signs and a narrow alley lead to the entrance to N’Between (Jared Dangremond)

records lined up on shelf
The bar spins ‘80s disco, jazz, and alternative genres from across Asia (Jared Dangremond)

When the clock strikes five, New Yorkers escape to N’Between, an izakaya-style listening bar tucked behind the Maki a Mano handroll shop. To enter, keep your eyes peeled for the glowing green neon sign and follow the narrow alley beneath it. This mysterious entry recalls the confined streets of Tokyo and the metropolis’s illustrious hole-in-the-wall bars.

bar with seating
The bar is at a lower height, a sunken feeling that coincides with the hole-in-the-wall take of the design (Jared Dangremond)

The cozy listening bar—and its handroll sister shop—are the work of 3.wrks, an emerging design studio helmed by Zachary Kahn, Chris Li, and Moritz Petre. The trio first started collaborating as students at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and now have a decade of experience designing for New York’s hospitality scene.

tables for people to drink and snack at
3.wrks custom-designed the log-like benches with a subtly flattened edge for greater comfort (Jared Dangremond)

Arriving at the bar requires a final entrance, pushing through a plastic industrial curtain, before the atmosphere changes completely. Vinyl spins softly, proffering the best cuts of 80s disco, jazz, and alternative genres from across Asia. Lighting is warm, traversing the entire spectrum from red to deep yellow, yet daylight is still allowed to filter through windows looking out onto 16th Street—a secondary street entrance allows for easy smoke break access, or an entrance that skips the need to pass through the food hall altogether.

tables for people to drink and snack at
The lighting is kept dim yet warm, although natural daylight filters in through windows (Jared Dangremond)

Furnishings are the real catch at N’Between. Again channeling the designed experience of an izakaya, high tables mean you’re seating on what literally appears to be a log. Li told AN Interior, “In Tokyo, izakaya are busy, with bartenders encouraging you to drink your drink, eat your snack, and go.” Channeling this energetic, workaday vibe without totally compromising on the luxury of lingering, 3.wrks custom-designed each bench with a subtly flattened edge for greater comfort, but it’s still a far cry from any traditional bar seating.

circular light fixture
Sculptural fixtures like P376 lamps by Kastholm & Fabricius light the interior (Jared Dangremond)

beer taps
The beer taps are finished in mahogany (Jared Dangremond)

Each table is lit with a sculptural fixture—the designers curated a selection of P376 lamps by Kastholm & Fabricius and Vale Pendants from A-N-D by Cain Heintzman.

“The fixtures each bring a space-age accent to the space that conveys the futuristic feel we were seeking,” said Kahn. But nodding to other Signal SI331 lamps lining the walls, Li added that the Jielde pieces ground the bar, “giving it that hint of industrial, blue-collar heritage” that’s inextricable from izakaya culture.

built-in bar
For the built-in bar, millwork organizes records, glasses, speakers, and spirits (Jared Dangremond)

If you opt for a seat at the bar, another design choice won’t just catch your eye; you’ll feel it. The bar is low, and the action is taking place on the same level as your drink. A sunken feeling replaces the usual barred hierarchy of a bar that separates the guest from the action. Beer taps are flush with the mahogany surface, as are accessories, ice, and accoutrements to the inventive specialty cocktails on offer. (So on theme is N’Between that you can scan the drinks menu by sliding out a 45rpm vinyl from its sleeve and scanning the QR code in the center).

the dining space is situated behind Maki a Mano, a handroll shop
The bar is tucked behind Maki a Mano, a handroll shop (Jared Dangremond)

The bar—and all tables in the restaurant—boast beveled edges, making it easier to slide in at a hightop or sit as a group at the corner of the bar. This is another imported izakaya detail, and rendered in buttery mahogany wood, it’s a subtle move that makes you wonder why all bar corners don’t follow suit. Here, the combination of rich wood, statement lighting, and selection of vintage stools salvaged from midcentury schools throughout the U.S. creates a sumptuous vibe that goes against the minimalist grain. N’Between is decidedly Lynchian, and the ability of the design to transport you to another place, and another time, showcases the designer’s rare ability to activate narrative in space.

seating at a bar
3.wrks also designed the handroll shop like a brighter, elegant counterpart to N’Between (Jared Dangremond)

What AN Interior recommends: Order the Shiro Buko cocktail, featuring a blend of gin, bitters, and pandan. Pair it with the classic izakaya snack called takowasa—the raw octopus and wasabi mixture is the salty bite you need to make your drink feel even more refreshing.