Romanians have a special connection with small café bars that are cosy and make them feel comfortable. In recent years, specialty coffee shops has become a common fixture in Bucharest as a place for good coffee, relaxation and socializing. There are a great deal of coffee shops and bars in the capital to prove it. Serving coffee and special long drinks made by the Soto’s passionate bartender, the venue welcomes visitors in a daylight-filled space designed by 441 Design Studio in close collaboration with its owners.
The location was very restrictive so the style of the design was worked around the architecture of the building. We chose deep ink blue as the contrastant color, to give the design an modern artistic look, giving the fact that the place acts as a art and exhibition gallery also.
We worked with Autocad and Photoshop mainly but also with 3D Max for some parts of the project. We started with a lot of sketches and worked with our clients to find the best design solution that fitted their vision but also the budget. Once we had that the construction team started working and bringing our design to life. The project took about 1 month to elaborate and 2 more month to implement.
This project took us by surprise actually because people responded better then we expected. The project was exhibited multiple times and it also given an award for best hospitality project in Ljublijana. We learned that people appreciate simplicity and that if you do your best with what you’ve got, chances are that something amazing is going to happen.
The studio found inspiration in combining an austere, industrial aesthetic with a touch of Wes Anderson deep blue that embodies the establishment’s bold and positive attitude towards art. Located in the heart of the Creative Neighborhood frequented by locals and tourists alike, Soto wants to be a place where artists can find support, being more like a cafe-bar-gallery, an unusual mix that can bring people towards art.
Soto is the kind of project where space dictated 60% of the design proposal. Being a wagon type space, the designers had quite a lot of constraints. They kept and restored the terrazzo mosaic floor, a typical feature of Romanian 70’s architecture, harmoniously blending together the industrial and the modern minimalist design. This dual aesthetic is further enhanced by the black-painted metallic window frames, the visible electrical wires on the ceiling and the retro round glass wall lamps.
Starting from this material we chose to play more with textures than with colours in a style with industrial influences. Hence the desire to have all the electric cables in sight that is also an easy to implement solution when you are pressed for time.
The owners had the desire to host creative events and curate exhibitions in the venue, designers thought of the possibility of changing the space constantly. This led to the deep blue “shutters” that can be closed or opened, creating a different colour game on the wall and an art display system. Although the predominant colour palette is neutral, an eclectic selection of contrasting materials and textures was used to further animate the design. Construction metal slate was used for the cafe’s walls and for the bathroom as well in order to create interesting sculptural patterns.
Undoubtedly, the 441 Design Studio’s most playful elements can be found in the bathroom that was inspired by a space capsule. The mirror that continues on the ceiling helps to open the space and creates an exciting reflection game.
The venue is completed by the sensibility given by the function of the space and the unusual amalgamation of elements that make it’s laid back, casual and artistic character.