Cross Café by Studio UNIT, Hong Kong

May 20th, 2017 by retail design blog

Located in the upbeat neighborhood of Sai Ying Pun in Hong-Kong, Studio UNIT designs the Cross Café with an eclectic style that brings back the 50s and 60s. The place actually houses a local dairy brand with a design referencing the city’s bing sutts’. The latter are traditional cafés that were very popular during the 1950s. They are considered unmistakable products from Hong Kong’s past – where western gastronomy was integrated and made affordable, fast and tasty.

However, with rapid commercialization and urban renewal in the city, “bing sutts” are fast disappearing along with the culture and memories that locals associate to them. Since it strongly believes in preserving “bing sutts” within the ever-changing landscape of the city, Studio UNIT brings a refreshing touch to the dairy brand while maintaining its classic, iconic image. This approach goes hand in hand with giving the “bing sutt” a more contemporary definition.

The architects started giving the concept these cafés a twist by extracting their fundamental characteristics and mixing these elements with the industrial rawness of metal, concrete, stainless steel and painted brick. The color theme – white, red, and black, came from the original design of the milk bottle and challenges traditional colors found in the old cafés. Drawing ideas from the atmospheric Hong Kong depicted in director Wong Kar Wai’s films, “Moments” were created to immerse users within the same cinematic scenes.

For exmaple, elements such as classic window frames, translucent wire glass, calligraphic menus and mosaic floor tiles come from traditional “bing sutts”. Meanwhile, metal gates and wall advertisements evoke the gritty backstreets of 60’s Hong Kong – with a neon sign that washes the interior with a subtle orange glow, offering an ambiance reminiscent of the city’s fast disappearing, neon infused street scenes.

All the above is presented within the simple black, white and red color palette, giving these recognizable elements a stylish interpretation. Artist Alana Tsui, whose work is characterized by strong and flowing lines, was invited to create a feature mural. The monotone colors of her work is well suited to the palette of cross café. Flowing dairy (representing the trappist dairy brand) is poured into a sea of abstract swirls, a distinctive characteristic of the alana’s work.

Design: Studio UNIT

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