Serving up the finest coffee with minimal environmental impact, ethical coffee brand HOST started life as a pop-up stand in London’s Old Street Underground station. When they opened their first permanent shop in Covent Garden, we worked with them to create a store which reflected their brand identity whilst also highlighting the Regency-era building’s many historical details.
Inspired by the ‘Continuous Monument’, an iconic project by 1960s radical Italian practice Superstudio, we introduced a clean, white tiled surface extending from the raised bar at the front of the shop, around to the service counter and beyond to the rear seating area. This ‘continuous grid’ was our most prominent design feature, with the tiled surface continuing across seating alcoves and table tops, and repetitive, rational grids recurring in other fixtures and fittings.
To imbue the café interior with HOST’s unique identity, we introduced playful touches of colour, using the brand’s signature purple in the extensive grouting between the tiles and for the soft furnishings (scatter cushions and seating accessories).
Located on Henrietta Street, the coffee shop continues a long-standing local tradition – the area was home to a wealth of coffee-houses, taverns and merchants in the 18th and 19th century. Then as now, large windows acted as a stage, bringing retailers’ wares and ambience into tempting proximity for passers-by. Naturally, we were keen to maintain No. 31’s elegant Regency-style timbered shopfront, and had it carefully preserved. We framed the large, single-plane, plate-glass window with slender and curved timber bars to showcase HOST’s refreshed interior and act as a barely-there layer of separation from the bustling life of the street.
Other historical details in the building included a Victorian wrought-iron spiral staircase between the shop floor and the basement service and storage level. We had this, along with its beautiful foliate detailing on the stair treads, preserved intact, and the shop’s hardwood parquet floor restored to its original burnished glory.
Accentuating the historic features and clean modern grid, our design also included contrasting accents of greenery to soften the environment, with various types of trailing ivy tempering the otherwise functional aesthetic.
“I’m really pleased with how the design captures the sense of being in someone’s kitchen, which ties in with our brand name of ‘Host’. We are hosting you as a customer so the more home-friendly the design can feel the better. I really like how the purple grouting between the tiles gently picks up on our logo, as well as the scaffolding boards re-used as shelves.”
Max Thomas, Client and Co-Founder of HOST Coffee.
Covent Garden, London