A focus on craft
How can a contemporary interior design be created for a café in New York City which focuses on the artisanship of coffee roasting, without having to resort to popular accessories and forms of decoration? This was the challenge faced by Lighthill for the new branch of the Blue Bottle Coffee brand’s store. "The greatest challenge of this project was creating a design that reflected both the client’s aesthetic and the local cafe vernacular. This creative tension allowed us to engage with the best elements of both while injecting some whimsey into what we saw as a very sober, restrained local design tradition" explains the architect. With its location right by Gramercy Park in Manhattan, the café attracts a large number of customers every day – meaning that something crucial to the interior of its rectangular, tube-shaped floor plan was to have clear lines and to be flexible and functional.
“REMO” and “BLOCCO” by Plank turned out to be ideal companions in this respect: Konstantin Grcic designed “REMO”, using ash for its plywood version. Thanks to their lightweight and robust material, the chairs can be moved easily. Their T-shaped backrests support their users and are very practical for visitors to the café who can hang their jackets and purses directly on their chairs for the duration of their short visits. This gives them a little more time for coffee and cake, since the broad seat is sufficiently comfortable. Visitors can also take a seat on the “BLOCCO” barstools by Naoto Fukasawa along the raised table areas against the café walls to the left and right. Here too, the details are impressively well thought through – well-designed footrests come in the shape of integrated aluminum rings integrated into the frames. “BLOCCO” is also made of light ash wood and in combination the two designs lend the café furniture a modern feel which fits in well with the brand’s progressive look.
On top of this, Lighthill has designed the service counter and a large table in the middle of the room with an irregular shape which fits in with the way that guests move through the café and guides them gently. “In line with the idea that the zigzag shape better suits the flow of customers, the sweeping, inviting shapes of the chairs represent a model seating solution which is not hampered by the limitations of traditional manufacturing techniques. The architectural design reflects the highly precise way that every cup of Blue Bottle coffee is prepared,” he explains. Consequently, at the Blue Bottle Gramercy Park Café the real craft of coffee roasting and furniture design are, so to speak, provided with a modern stage. Meanwhile, Lighthill translates the traditional elements of the coffeehouse culture with their dark wood and elaborate decorations into smooth walnut surfaces and minimalist wall paintings displaying the café’s logo. “The veneer’s exposed edges fit in with the furniture by Plank,” says Lighthill. The interior’s light, dynamic atmosphere and the room’s depth are additionally reinforced by mirrors at both ends and by geometric ceiling lighting in the ceiling’s paneling. (am)