Manila – Some shop to relieve their stress, others avoid shopping at all costs because of how much it induces stress. Yet – despite being a life-long member of the former group – shopping malls have never ceased to be my personal hell. I know I’m not alone; there have been far too many times I’ve witnessed hordes of exhausted mothers and aggrieved boyfriends slumped over their mid-shop lunch in defeat. Yet it's these very restaurants that play an important role in revitalizing soldiers to carry on with their retail battle.
That’s the reason why GamFratesi’s biophilic design for the Harlan & Holden Glasshouse Café located in front of Rockwell Center, one of Manila’s most popular malls, is so smart. Instead of exacerbating shopping side-effects with busy textile patterns and uncomfortable vinyl seats, they created a literal rehabilitative oasis inspired by a greenhouse. The Danish studio wanted to break the boundaries between indoor and out by swapping windows for walls and using the surrounding tropic vegetation to their advantage. But that’s certainly not the only advantage architects Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi had in creating the appeasing space: they’re naturally well-acquainted with Danish design sensibility.
Moreover, Gam and Fratesi’s design presents itself as welcoming and comfortable. Their considered use of material contributes to a luxurious dining experience without unnecessary elitism. The bar is comprised of stone and terrazzo, while marble tiles in black and white complement the ivory-coloured Louis Poulsen VL lamps hanging from lanky trees. Above all, though, it is the liberal usage of sage green throughout the 130-sq-m space (and maybe a glass of wine, too) that helps visitors escape the stress of shopping. Beetle chairs by Gubi as well as Morris chairs and Targa sofas by Gebrüder Thonet Vienna are all bedecked in the hue.
Every sector needs more biophilic spaces – from our workplaces to our shopping malls to the cafés we unwind at. There’s no arguing how positively plants – and utilising the basics of colour psychology – can affect our wellbeing. As GamFratesi have shown, the two are essential tools for designers looking to create tranquil hospitality spaces, especially those connected with high-intensity retail experiences.