Tucked away in a back alley of Seoul, Korea’s Hannam-dong region lies this semi-underground coffee shop brought to you by the creative stylings of architect firm LABOTORY. Cafe Oriente’s key design elements centers around a desire to offer patrons an enjoyable culinary experience in a space that balances minimalist charm with contemporary Korean aesthetics.
LABOTORY thought to introduce a unique “C”-shaped concept to the project, which not only is visible in the space’s physical layout but in the coffee bar structure and seat shapes found throughout. Through this distinct configuration, customers can easily flow from the barista counter to the allotted dining partitions, en route to the complex’s central courtyard. The first floor, for instance, acts as an expanded link between the interior and exterior space — a characteristic borrowed from traditional Korean-style homes referred to as Hanoks.
A mixture of natural wood and granite provide warmth and customary familiarity, which when paired alongside miniature gardens placed beneath the seats, offer a close connection to the world outside. Cafe Oriente succeeds in showing respect to the country it honors and to the physical space it resides within.
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