Driven by a conceptual approach focused on maximizing social interactions, the conscious reuse of found elements and the bespoke application of ordinary materials, this design by Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster creates a new café with a vibrant identity.
Occupying the main level of a century-old house in Buffalo, New York, the layout of TIPICO was organized with strategic insertions. The primary component of the cafe is the bar, which is comprised of ten reclaimed wood tables that have been grafted together and painted a unifying sky-blue color. The colorful element of the bar unites the space and draws the staff and customers to a shared experience. On the service side, the long bar encourages the engagement between staff and customers beyond the initial transaction, while responding to the functional needs of different work zones for the baristas. On the customer side, the undulating profile of the bar further creates opportunities for customers to interact with one another by providing places to sit for individuals and groups of various sizes, without clearly delineating where one zone starts and another begins. The swiveling bar stools help to promote this open-ended approach, allowing individuals to move their seated body towards others to perhaps engage in conversations they did not expect to have. Thus, testing the comfort levels of occupants and promoting moments of interaction between strangers, the bar acts a social infrastructure.
The sky-blue of the bar is further applied in the space to the built-in benches and as a band of color across the existing fireplace, unifying these elements with the rest of the interior. The hue also ties in a whimsical installation of an over-scaled stairwell topped with a mirror – a stair to nowhere – which creates an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ moment that plays on the domestic history of the space.
Alongside the reclaimed tables, off-the-shelf materials are used in the café. This includes peg-board, which wraps the underside of the bar and is used for merchandise displays. Further, the three bespoke linear lights, placed over the bar and benches, are made from construction-site string lights wrapped around aluminum tube stock, combining the functional and the whimsical. From the bar to the lights, the design intentionally supports local craftsmanship.
Olive green outdoor chairs and tables were chosen for the interior space, responding to a desire for flexibility with the attached patio, but more conceptually aiming to bring the feeling of outdoors in. This is augmented further by the generous use of lush potted plants, which bring the connotations of more tropical climates, but also ameliorate the air quality and acoustics of the space.
Overall the modest interior is guided by a desire to create a playful space that caters to functional needs while providing an idiosyncratic social infrastructure through strategic insertions.
photography: Sara Schmidle