step inside the ambient ‘PENITENT’ cafe by knof


step inside the ‘penitent’ cafe by knof 

 

Hidden on the second floor of a multi-tenant building in Sumido, Japan, ‘PENITENT’ is an intimate and ambient cafe designed by local practice knof. Together with the client, the design team delved into ‘the meaning of creating a cafe even amid the coronavirus pandemic, where people are calling for ‘staying at home.’ Based on the concept of ‘getting together for a short time and spending the day alone,’ we aimed to create a place where people can feel the joy of sharing time and space with strangers while respecting their way of spending their time,’ explains knof.

 

Based on this concept of ‘sharing’ and ‘disjointing’, the resulting spatial layout unfolds as follows: multiple seating areas with different characters, a large and multifunctional table with centripetal force, a movable art screen that changes patterns and colors depending on the weather and time of day, and a subtle material scheme that complements the dimly-lighting scheme.

 

Setting the scene, knof writes: ‘On one side of the large table, the owner is brewing coffee. Meanwhile, you hear the sound of a record playing nearby. When you look up from the book you’re reading, you catch a glimpse of other customers talking in whispers and the hot coffee being brought to you.

a movable, pleated artwork floods this japanese cafe with a homely ambiance

all images © Haruki Kodama

 

 

Delving into the first hero feature of the ‘PENITENT’ cafe by knof, the large table facing the art screen spans 3.8 x 3.4 m and reveals a nicely texture wooden surface supported by discrete, round steel legs. ‘The table is so large that you don’t have to worry about what the person sitting next to you or facing you is doing,’ notes the designersAdditionally, by setting the table where the owner brews coffee and prepares the food, the team creates an extension for various activities to unfold, inviting guests and the owner to share an experience while respecting each other’s space.

a movable, pleated artwork floods this japanese cafe with a homely ambiance

 

 

The second star of the cafe sits adjacent to the table as a movable and colorful iconographic artwork. Envisioned by Mayumi Ozawa and Masahiko Setoyama, the installation takes the shape of an illuminated curtain wall that changes appearance throughout the day. Once the design was set, knof went on to build the artwork by arranging 11 FRP corrugated panels into three layers and attaching transparent/non-transparent cutting sheets to them. Each panel is suspended by a rail and can be moved left or right depending on the weather, time or need for ventilation. While moving, the iconography changes accordingly.

 

Due to its corrugated texture, the image gives a completely different impression when viewed from different angles. There are also two types of pleat sizes, large and small, to add complexity to the changes in the iconography.

 

‘The base FRP corrugated plate is not completely transparent and has a unique charm of a material that blurs in rainbow colors when light passes through it. The vivid colors of the cutting sheets are added to it, and the sunlight and lighting shine through and dye the inside of the store in various colors. Because it faces the south window, the space changes greatly depending on the weather and time, such as when the sun hits, when it goes down, or when it’s cloudy. We are also looking forward to the change that FRP will turn yellow and become familiar with over a few years,’ states the studio. 

a movable, pleated artwork floods this japanese cafe with a homely ambiance    

view of the large table and movable, colorful artwork 

a movable, pleated artwork floods this japanese cafe with a homely ambiance

two different pleast sizes add dynamic flair to the artwork 

a movable, pleated artwork floods this japanese cafe with a homely ambiance

subtle material scheme and a dim-lighting design 

 





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