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Enter the Modern Italian Coffee House

A Renaissance coffee shop and exhibition space for electronics giant Philips opens in Beijing, China.

BY Rik Glauert

December 2nd, 2016

Beijing-based design studio GB Space has designed a coffee-shop-cum-exhibition-space that showcases the latest coffee equipment by electronics brand Philips. Called PH Coffee, the dual-purpose café is located at Beijing’s glittering Finance Street.

The aesthetic of PH Coffee blends the heritage of artisan Italian coffee with the refinement and sophistication of cutting-edge technology. “We wanted to showcase modern times while keeping the romantic charm of the Italian Renaissance,” says designers Wenny Gao and Lisa Bai of GB Space.

The designers implemented a storefront of Roman-inspired archways and cleanly-cut glass. The archways continue within, forming alcoves that create distinction between the different areas within the shop.

A lattice ceiling is formed by a metal mesh inspired by Italian Renaissance-era churches, featuring a mix of the historical and the industrial.

Three-dimensional grid of rods hang below the ceiling and continue downwards to create minimalist shelving units for display.

“The contrast of rough arch vaults and suspended metal ceiling expresses the design concept of transforming from traditional to modern times,” say the designers.

This pleasing and unexpected collision continues with the use of two different floorings – coarse white stone tiles inlaid with wooden squares contrast warm wooden floorboards that extend up to the white walls. The two types of flooring are separated with a large curve line that echoes the archways above. This helps to demarcate the functional areas: the coffee bar, the exhibition space, and the seating spaces.

At the front desk, the coffee bar counter takes centre stage, marked by the Roman arch above. Simple chairs match the wooden flooring, lined neatly by the side.

The casual seatings are a mix of vintage and modern chairs with wooden elements that match the floor and customised metal detailing that echoes the lattice ceiling. Grey upholstery subtly bridges the natural and industrial elements.

“The interactive area sits in the centre of the space, merging the two different functional areas – the exhibition space and the coffee shop,” the designers say. 

Here, a state-of-the-art Philips coffee machine takes pride of place on a white counter to encourage visitors to try the machines and ‘Be A Barista’, as instructed by a sign dangling on the multifunctional metal rods.