January 31, 2015

2014 BOY Winner: Coffee/Tea

Arts-and-crafts cliché has dominated coffee-bar decor. But Ghislaine Viñas hit the reset button with the first permanent location for an upstart brand’s expertly made New Zealand–style “flat whites” and “long blacks.” (That’s an espresso shot topped by silky steamed milk and an Americano, respectively.)

She managed to create three distinct zones in only 450 square feet. To demarcate the entry, she dropped the ceiling and surfaced it, as well as the sidewalls below, in paper digitally printed with an abstract composition in blue, red, and white—the work of one of the owners, an artist who was inspired by the “over-spray” left on the protective cardboard he uses when he’s painting. The largest zone, in the center, offers café seating. Here, she eliminated color and “paid homage to the industrial rawness of the space,” she says. A uniform white covers the brick walls and wooden ceiling, highlighting their roughness. Adding airiness is a skylight installed after a boarded-up original was discovered, thrillingly, during the renovation. At the rear, a canopy appears to lower the ceiling again, a bookend effect. Here is the coffee bar proper. Conceived like a giant piece of furniture, it’s indeed a collaboration with a furniture designer, UM Project founder François Chambard.

Project Team: Brandon Lenoir; Zoe Hsieh.

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