Dutch ‘coffee shops’ – world renowned for the sale of cannabis – are not illegal in the Netherlands, but most are rather seedy, to say the least. Utrecht’s newest coffee shop does not fit this description, however. The bipolar concept developed by Workshop of Wonders combines a convivial yet secure atmosphere with a sense of order and functionality.
Both heaven and hell play major roles in the concept. Heaven occupies the 100-sq-m ground floor, a light-filled space in which clouds adorn the walls. Hell – the same size as heaven – is darker, more intimate and underground, where you’d expect to find it. The designers’ biggest challenge was to furnish the coffee shop with ash and roach-resistant tables, chairs and poufs. The solution lay in materials such as glass, steel and leather.
Graphic-design agency Dietwee, the outfit responsible for the shop’s identity, came up with the name Hi/Lo, clearly an allusion to the two levels within but, even more, a reference to how it feels to be stoned.
‘Why we accepted the job? Even though we don’t smoke dope ourselves,’ says Gerrit Vos of Workshop of Wonders, ‘we do have a passion for adventure and an understanding of the need to get away from it all.’
Photos Kasia Gatkowska; video made and produced by Vermedian.
*Sneak peek! This project has also been featured in Frame #84 and Night Fever 3!*