Omotesando Koffee Taps Studio Adjective For Manila’s Second Outpost
The bustling neighborhood of Salcedo Village in the financial district becomes a delightful playground during weekends because of its long running market. Although one is spoiled for choice for food and coffee in the area, the second outpost of Omotesando Koffee in The Philippines is a celebrated one by enthusiasts.
Designed by Hong Kong-based design agency Studio Adjective, the store adopts a moodier feel with darker wood tones with warm plaster and cement. This marks the second collaboration between Omotesando Koffee and Studio Adjective – with the first being the brand’s store in Harbour City in Hong Kong.
Studio Adjective’s design director and co-founder, Wilson Lee, says, “As the second outlet in Manila, the client wanted it to be more sophisticated but still having the relaxed environment as a cafe. The customer mix will be quite different for weekdays with professional and weekends with families. A good balance of vibe is important.”
The cafe maintains the brand’s hallmark features such as the coffee kiosk featuring a cubic frame housing baristas in pristine lab coats. “The layout of the design is geometrical, maintaining well-defined zoning and circulation inside the cafe. The signature coffee kiosk – a frame structure in solid wood – is placed in the center of the space, highlighted with a gray marble top and lit up with an artificial skylight on the ceiling,” describes Lee. This allows the coffee making process to be central to the experience.
Several seating areas surround the kiosk with solid wood tables standing on cubic bases in cement finish. One may recognize the award-winning Ishinomaki Laboratory Tripodal Stools that were designed by Studio Adjective and further tailored to match the space. “We wanted to combine sophistication with casualness into the space. So we introduced our Tripodal Stool designed for Japanese brand – Ishinomaki Laboratory into the new Omotesando Koffee branch. Our friend Lamana is the Made in Local partner of Ishinomaki Laboratory [in the Philippines] and we talked with them and explored using local wood to manufacture the stools. The final result is a beautifully fabricated walnut version of the stool, which still maintains the casualness in the design but injects a level of luxe. The geometrical structure also blended well with the interior of Omotesando Koffee.”
Chairs with an incorporated backrest upholstered with textile by Kvadrat line the back of the cafe. This area is flanked with lattice partition forming a snug lounge area. “We have designed a slanted stainless steel ceiling at the lounge area as a highlight feature for the space and to insert an airy touch to the pocketed space,” adds Lee.
The geometric cube is not only found in the shape of the kiosk or the cafe’s famous baked custard called kashi, but it is also in surprising areas such as embellished foot of the columns, the kitchen’s window or the chute for rubbish. Materiality of the space shows masterful restraint with a tasteful integration of the cafe’s branding. “We were keen to design a brand new experience from our first design for Omotesando Koffee in Hong Kong. The design aims to create a minimal and poetic space,” Lee continues. “The material selection is not complicated. From the interior to the furniture, dark wood is paired with warm beige plaster with the insertion of black metal and grey marbles as touch up details.”
Studio Adjective designed this remotely with the help of technology. “Technology makes it a lot easier to work remotely for projects nowadays, but there’re still some challenges when we design for different cities around the world. We need to understand the local material, the habits of local people – for example how they enjoy coffee in a cafe. We always want to introduce a new design experience but still in respect to local contexts. I’m surprised to hear that people are enjoying the interior because of the choice of dark wood. It’s very different with the light wood cafes usually seen around.”
Omotesando Koffee Salcedo branch offers a sophisticated update to the coffee shop’s international portfolio without veering too far from the brand’s identity. “We want the customer to feel and understand the brand once they enter. The iconic Omotesando Koffee kiosk is set in the center of the space like a stage without a distraction. They know they have entered Omotesando Koffee where baristas are professionals and coffee production is a craft and art. Once people get seated, they will notice the small details we have designed – from furniture to the partition and the lighting. With this macro to micro journey, one can fully immerse themselves into the interior we have designed for them.”
Photography by the author