Flat+White Café
serving the smoothness of coffee, in the 1:1 sculpture-like architecture

Indulging oneself in a delicate aromatic cup of coffee is a sanctuary for a coffee lover. The experience, however, could be enhanced by the ambiance and the space that welcomes visitors to dive into the coffee aromas. Flat+White Café, a white café with sculpture-like contour lines was designed to evoke the smoothness of Flat white coffee and the smooth milk foam layer via architectural space by an interior designer who loves craftwork like Khun Ton- Badintra Balankura from Context studio.

Flat + White , the beginning of a coffee lover

It all begins with Khun White – Rata Kuropakornpong (the owner) who owns a townhouse in Thonglor area. He plans to renovate the top two floors for a residence and the lower two floors for a small café that will be his locally owned establishment. However, he was not sure what business should it be. Mr. White started by looking for something that connects to his own story.

With the fondness for sweets coupled with having lived in Melbourne, Australia which was the origin of flat white coffee, he decided to open a white cafe called Flat + White with part of the shop’s name mixed with his own name.

Flat+White Café mainly serves Flat white coffee which has ‘milk’ as the main ingredient. The softness of the milk layer and silkiness thus became the initial concept of the shop. The designer decodes “Flat White” into “Flat” which means “smooth”, “flat plane” together with “White”, which literally means white color. The simplicity in the white tones interconnects with the name of the shop and the smooth Flat white coffee menu perfectly.

The softness of Flat white coffee under the space of Flat+White Café.

After getting a rough idea, Khun Ton began to design the café by paraphrasing from concept to tangible space. He explains that “he wanted to convey the feeling of a smooth milky layer of coffee and the creamy of the foam. He thought about how he could transform the feeling to the space that would make visitors indulge among layers and textures and feels the milk layers that give tenderness to Flat White coffee.”

The milk layer is also the base of all other types of coffee for example the latte art. Khun Ton also sees the layers on the plane like the contour lines of a landscape that we were familiar with back in the days of making architectural models as well.

The designers intentionally design lines from contours that convey the connotation of various layers of the smoothy and creamy milk at all horizontal planes such as stairs, countertops, ceilings, or even tabletops. So that customers are embraced with a soft feeling at the same time.

Furniture like seating at the counter also consists of small gimmicks. Those seating are made from used milk barrels from Korat. The design for tables, chairs, and seating in other zones will focus on rounded lines to make the overview of the space as smooth as possible.

Stairs to the second floor are one of the highlights of the café. The designer intends to make the steps floating in the air by reinforcing steel into the wall. The layered, rounded shape makes customers feel as if they are walking on different layers of milk inside the coffee cup

The 1:1 sculpture-like architecture

One of the charismas from this coffee shop is the low-lying lines that create shadows and dimension and brings simplicity in plain white tones to life interestingly. As you would expect, behind the finished work, those lines had to go through a meticulous design and construction process before coming out as flow as a 3D sculpture.

 “This project can be viewed as both interior and architecture. It also has similarities with the 1:1 sculpture. I love handicrafts. I went to the site, inspecting it as if I have sculpted this work by myself,” Mr. Ton said.

All the walls inside were designed to be an outstanding stucco work with Parametric lines.  The steel frame under the form of the wall was rendered with a computer system while the surface work was done by Pohchang Academy of Arts (Sculpture major) students. They fulfilled the tender curve in the plastering step resulted in a smooth surface. This is a craftsmanship masterpiece that combines technology and handcraft nicely.

As well as the form of the contour at the ceiling, it was rendered by the computer system before using the model method for construction at the site. That is to make the template on a 1:1 scale and cut the gypsum board which is the actual material according to the template. Then, those pieces were assembled at the site.

(Behind the scenes of the construction and plastering curved walls)

The exterior stainless-steel façade serves to cover and envelop the building and the residential area harmonically. The designer then draws the soft white character of the ‘milk’ of the interior to the exterior using lines. Horizontal layers are also used to design the façade which gradually helps create more depth and privacy to the building.

The double space façade in front of the cafe also reveals the interior space. The lines of the façade progressively split as if one secretly peeks through the blinds. These lines were also rendered from the computer. For the living area on the upper floors, mimicking the café appearance, Khun Ton designed by reflecting the top and bottom lines that match perfectly.

(Façade image rendering from computer program)

The taste of a good cup of coffee is one thing but, on the other hand, it is the space that enhances its flavor. It is not about increasing sweetness or saltiness, but the architectural design that captures the feeling and atmosphere would more or less make the taste or the coffee more mellow. Flat+White Café is an example of the designs we mentioned here. The softness of the milk not only transfers from the flavor of a hot cup of coffee but is also shown in a tender space at first sight.

Location: Soi Thararom 2, Thonglor, Bangkok
Area: 240 square meters
Owner: Rata Kuropakornpong
Architect & Interior: Context studio
Structure Engineer: Preecha Kanokchotikul
Contractor: OWA co.,ltd
Photography: SkyGround DOF Architectural Photography