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Behind a solid beige wall that seems to conceal some architecture inside and is surrounded by big and small trees is the attractiveness of ‘Leilo Coffee Space’ that invites us to visit. The café’s name is pronounced as a cute Thai word “Le-lo.” A simple earth tone café in Rayong province formerly known as Happy Cup was renovated by SA-ARD architecture & construction and is being rebranded to become a more serious café and a lounge that opens for coffee lovers for gathering and sharing their points of view in a warm and friendly environment.
After many years of the owner running the café, it is time for a major rebranding. Leilo Coffee Space was established with two intentions. One is to change the way of making coffee to be more detailed than before. The owner collaborates with Cozy Factory, a roastery specializing in coffee, to develop distinctive flavours in Leilo’s way.
Another intention is to change the café’s style to be more minimalist and to create a living room-like space for coffee lovers to sit in a relaxed atmosphere, while also serving as the owner’s workspace to create menus outside of the café’s opening hours.
Begin with simplicity, and gradually add in some details
“After the owner provided me with the reference pictures of his preferred style, which is a minimalist café, I thought I should add something special to make it not boring but not too Fast Fashion, and to create a style that lasts long for him. That is, keep it simple from the beginning and add some interesting details.” Mr. Sithanon Cha-aim, the architect, began to tell us the story of the design.
This resulted in the beginning of the design being as simple as possible, using the original building’s structure and square shape while adding dimension to the building as if it were floating off the floor by designing the base protruding in the same plane as the entrance staircase. The architect also incorporates a special effect on the building’s wall surface in a variety of ways, both inside and outside, to create a more interesting dimension. On the other hand, it encourages the structure not to be overly simple.
Inspired by a caramel, noticeably from the corrugated wall.
What imparts the warmth of the shop’s mood and tone is the building’s new beige colour. The architect chose a colour scheme that resembled caramel colour, one of the owner’s favourite colours. He also brings the flowing characteristics of caramel into the corrugated lines on the exterior walls, as well as the newly created curved corner walls to connect the shop and the adjacent building, which houses the raw materials storage room and bakery, adding fluidity to the use and is a background that adds a playful touch to the new look of the café.
The new counter bar’s perspective that is proportionate and convenient to use.
The first thing you notice when you enter the café is a 5-ish meters counter bar that is positioned diagonally. This is, of course, something rarely seen in cafes. Turning the direction of the bar counter not only creates a new perspective and makes the space look more spacious compared to the shop’s compact size of only 7 x 6 meters, but it also allows for a proportionate and comfortable flow of work for all three employees.
The bar area is divided into three sections. One is the slow bar, which allows coffee-savvy people to sit at the counter and engage in a close conversation with the barista. Next is the speed bar. And the last section on the far left is where orders are placed, and bakeries are served.
Delicate curves and subtle details
For the arrangement of seating areas in the café, the architect mirrored the bar counter’s lines into a triangular island counter, which is positioned in the centre of the store at the same height and made of the same materials. The height of the other tables and chairs has been reduced to make the shop appear airier and to emphasize a rounded curve design that is in harmony with most other details of the café, from curved corner mirrors, curved corner ceiling, or even the chamfered bar counter, adding a subtle touch to the interior space.
The interior walls were designed to be double-walled to conceal various systems and prevent wires from interfering with simplicity due to the need for curvy lines that are smooth and flow as much as possible. There is also a cute detail, such as the wall behind the bar counter, which has square holes for installing speakers.
The sage green stools are the only colour added to the interior, in addition to the caramel tones and the warm tones of wood from the countertop of the bar and the island counter, to create a connection with the surrounding outdoors’ nature greenery.
Encircle peacefulness with nature
A solid wall was built around the entire space to create a more peaceful outdoor environment, leaving some space for planting trees so that it wouldn’t feel too opaque, and people outside could peek in at certain angles. The designer used a full sheet smart board material, spaced one centimetre apart, and covered with cornices instead of plastering, creating a light and airy effect. It is also a technique that uses materials cost-effectively and shortens the construction time.
The outdoor seating areas are positioned in different parts of the garden, filled with various plants. Those plants provide shade and a cool and pleasant ambience for relaxing in the evening while sipping coffee. The ground is covered with gravel, and the edges of the planting pot are curvy as same as the interior. The floating tables and chairs can be easily moved or adjusted for future garden activities.
“If you look at it at first glance, people will think it’s a simple café. But if you look closely, you can see that there are some design details hidden beneath that simplicity.” The architect concludes with a design perspective that communicates the owner’s needs in the simplest way possible. It conceals the gimmicks by using textures and the creation of delicately curved lines to create a space where everyone can enjoy drinking coffee in a calm atmosphere surrounded by natural greenery.
Location: Rayong, Thailand
Owner: Woraphon B.
Architect: Sithanon Cha-aim
Design & Contractor: SA-ARD architecture & construction
Photographer: Usssajaeree Studio