This project is a small cafe in a central city arcade. It was named after the client's favourite Geography teacher and is effectively a study in topography and geometry in timber. Sitting at the end of a mall surrounded by reconstituted stone, neon and plasterboard, the timber interior literally stands in stark contrast, providing a warm space of respite.
When viewed from afar, the main visual element is a chevron ceiling baffle array in Vic Ash Veneered E0 MDF which is vertically replicated in a wall facing the mall. The baffles sit above an open kitchen, and return down the rear wall, concealing all services and a large stainless steel canopy. They also provide an hygienic and visually arresting ceiling for the kitchen (open ceilings were not allowed over food preparation areas). Custom designed light fittings in Vic Ash Veneer throw light across the baffles, giving the site a warm glow, and allow the ceiling to appear like it's floating in space. The join of the ceiling and rear wall was designed to resemble the throat of an accordion (the teacher's favourite instrument), and also take on a cloister effect, giving the cafe a hushed, calm quality.
If the kitchen is the cloister, the dining room is the library. Finishes have been reduced to blackboard paint and the same Vic Ash panels as the ceiling, with integrated plywood shelving on the walls. There is no ceiling over this section, just all services painted out black and some suspended light fittings. This completely changes the proportion of the room and gives the dining room a different feel to the kitchen. Flooring in the dining room is a limed, B Grade plywood sheet, giving the floor a sense of softness and contrast with other timber elements.
Plywood furniture was designed specifically for this space, and was a study in Geometry. Circles and triangles abound, and are joined in incongruous ways. Small circular tables and stools look like they will topple over, while larger tables and benches appear sturdy and robust from one angle, but impossibly thin from another. This is all due to the structural strength of plywood, which was finished in the same Vic Ash veneer as the ceiling baffles and walls.
All veneers have been hand polished and fixed to the substrates in a joinery factory for the furniture, wall and ceilings. This gives the fitout a consistency and clarity, and provides a strong visual identity for the client's business.
The whole thing is designed to make people think and engage with the space, in the safety of a protected environment, a little like school really.