We approached the difficult task to work within the shopping mall public spaces with the ideat to create a place where people would actually want to indulge and stay a little bit longer. The former round Piazza within the Touchwood shopping mall in Solihull was once rented to a small coffee roaster which remained closed before Covid, and then rented out for pop up events for cars, jacuzzi tubs, garden furniture and the like.
We worked closely with the Touchwood and with our Client Artari, an historic Italian coffee roastery which is teaming up with the Lucarelli group. The inspiration came from the bygone era of the Gran Cafes, but also from the way the Italian people tend to linger in their Piazza, they start with a coffee then linger a little longer, meet friends and discuss about life, football and the rest.
The open kitchen was a challenge as it is continuously exposed to the passers by, but it is also a strength as it gives a sense of pleasure to admire the theatre of the staff continuoisly working and serving their plates.
The kitchen continues into the bar which is covered by a large canopy with champagne metal pelmet and fins and pale green cladding. The aim of the canopy is to protect the centre of the cafe from the mall high ceilings and again to foster that sense of place by changing the mood of the lights and protecting the customers and the staff.
For the same reason, also the design for the boots has been deeply curated. These are set at the perimeter of the circle so had to be curved and are covered by a double set of metal arches, which protect the boots and give the opportunity to install architectural lighting and folilage at the same time. Glass screens with a circular motif have been added to protect the customers from the winds coming from the mall entrances, these are transulcent and allow for sights into the venue.
The aim is to try to slow down the pace so Customers can have some rest from the busy shopping spaces and be encouraged to comfortably sit for their coffee or afternoon tea. The upholstered fabrics are from Jean Munro, the leathers come from Italy, the tiles to the bar are from Minoli and Bert and May, some of the chairs are from Pedrali, all the rest is custom made.