This Amsterdam café creates a 3D optical illusion with wood

Amsterdam –  on Zuidas is not that type of Dutch coffee shop, but it sure feels like one due to a subtle but striking detail: the mind-bending 3D effect of the wooden tiles that cover the counter. It’s a hard material that somehow behaves like geometric putty.

In order to achieve that updated version of the coffee chain’s signature pattern, the architects behind Studio Akkerhuis reached out Wood-Skin, a Milanese firm that develops composite building materials through digital methods. The system used on the counter relies on a mesh sheet that allowed them to create organic and supple tridimensional surfaces with rigid materials, such as wood. The square tiles are also present in the shelves and boxes of an open storage system made of steel, where fresh products and coffee beans are on display.

But these attention-grabbers are actually non-screaming statement pieces inside an environment that aims to evoke the welcoming calm of home. The newest location of the brand was conceived as a kitchen-living room, where customers and baristas could share the same table. This idea informed the layout: the bar and the open kitchen from the centerpiece, while the seating areas – from wooden benches to a raised concrete platform that starts as a working table for the baristas but turns into a surface for customers – run around the central bar.

‘The wood, concrete and steel, combined with a discreet lighting design, radiate warmth, authenticity and unity,’ said Bart Akkerhuis, founder of the Paris-based studio. ‘The mix of materials creates a comfortable and welcoming environment – truly a special third place for everyone to enjoy.’


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