Ask a sample group of people what their biggest need from public spaces is today, and cleanliness would most likely be top of list. While the pandemic is certain to impact to what extent business owners invest in sanitary surfaces and hygienic systems in the short and long terms, the result may be that there’s a clear aesthetic impact on these spaces too. It would not be unthinkable for consumers’ sensibilities to subconsciously – and consciously – begin favouring metal-and-stone clad environments over tactile ones. These hardy materials, often associated with clinical or utilitarian spaces, can evoke a certain level of visual trust among users. That palette has risen in popularity among different typologies – here are six hospitality spaces which elaborate on how the future of sleek, polished interiors can come to take shape.
Bangkok-based startup Exofood is the brainchild of a young group of people interested in smart and sustainable urban farming systems. Exofood has a focus on insects – ‘one of the biggest protein sources for animals and humans’ – and to offset negative perceptions about this, interior architects Space+craft were briefed to design a space which champions cleanliness and sleekness. The interior centrepiece – a vertical shelving system lined with neon colours –contains boxes of insect species, highlighted by fluorescent T5 bulbs.
Architect Vladimir And used a variety of steel-hue materials to refresh Krasnodar, Russia café Biblioteka Coffee. The 50-m2 space’s ceilings are clad in crumpled metal panels, punctuated by neon lights; the floor and a portion of the walls are carpeted with Forbo’s flocked, anti-bacterial Flotex line. Travertine-coloured concrete tables populate the interior. Biblioteka is not totally devoid of warmth though: And introduced wooden furniture and a pair of vintage GUBI armchairs to contribute cosiness and bright accents.
Located in an abandoned newspaper office in Huai’an, dessert café Z&M Cake is a ‘collision of old and new’. Design practice Simpleline juxtaposed the original red-brick structure of the building with stainless steel and stone, creating a sharp, monochrome interior comprised of clean lines and surfaces. The designers divided the space into sections, partially protecting the existing structure while simultaneously enabling natural light to enter, showcasing the refined details.
The laboratory references in Das Lab’s latest project don’t just include stainless steel (this time sandblasted) and glass vessels (a revolving flour-filled sphere among them) but extend to the Shanghai store’s name: Holiland Lab. The designers say they envisioned the bakery space as a '"systematic" manufacturing factory, where the products displayed are more like industrial objects that were made with precision and control. The mechanical components imply the advancement of standardization and automatic technologies.'
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Anson Design’s interior for Guangzhou café LaiHui Coffee focuses on dimensional surfaces and finishes. Ceramic tile, aluminium plating, paint and additional materials were chosen in the same tone, emphasizing the textures and greenery within. ‘The whole design is based on grey,’ explains a spokesperson for the studio, ‘which makes the function of space more pure, and customers pay more attention to visuals, experiences and products.’
Heytea’s Shenzhen flagship focuses on experiential-based ‘labs’ – bars in off-brand speak – interspersed across two storeys. Each exhibit their own visual identities and offer unique programmes, presenting a multitude of ways and activities for customers to engage with the brand. Tomo Design primarily worked within a palette of neutral metals, stone and volcanic rock. The overall effect is sleek and futuristic, though Tomo also took the time to incorporate traditional Chinese references into its detailing.
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