Instead of going for cozy or comfortable, the designers of Bananananana Coffee went for shock value in their design concept for the 60-square-metre (646 sq.ft) coffee shop.
The shop is located at 175 Qingjiang Road in a non-descript older building in the Qianjiang New Town in Hangzhou, so a more conventional approach would have been to design a welcoming and relaxing neighbourhood cafe.
Instead, lead by chief designer Jason Fan, team members Pink Wang, Alexx Wei and Hans Wang of the local Mango Design Studio, abandoned typical coffee-shop design variations and channelled a plane crash. However, this is not an alarming heap of mangled metal, it is more of a result of a peaceful landing in pieces for the imagined aircraft.
The designers attempted to break the tranquility of the neighbourhood, and in this they have succeeded. Bravely, they opted for a conflicting, strong and monumental design language rather than the safer vernacular. Nobody is going to walk by this and not notice, at least until they get used to it.
Five curved steel sheets are inserted in the building as if the plane were partially in and partially out of the building. This also connects the interior and with the exterior of the shop.
The design choices were not simple to execute. According to Mango, the team spent a lot of time at the plant where the huge metal pieces were manufactured, and then again on site as the large elements were brought in at night to avoid disturbing the residential neighbourhood, and later assembled taking a brave and necessary invent-the-method-as-you-go approach.
Inside the coffee shop most of the seating and other furnishings were also custom-designed by Mango for this project. There are no decorations or soft elements as everything is made of stainless steel or coated terrazzo and concrete surfaces.
Bananananana Coffee is definitely not your typical run-of-the-mill project or process, and the fact that it was completed at all attests to a trusting relationship between the designers and the client, Hangzhou Bihuo Catering Management Co., Ltd. As always, brave clients allow designers to explore brave concepts. Now it is up to the customers to show if it was all worth it. Tuija Seipell
Photos by Yi Zhang