We are getting more and more bored with the uniformity of branded corporate coffee shops although their familiarity and predictability still feel convenient and safe for many. But we are noticing more unique local cafes opening up even in the big cities where every shopping centre, main street and airport is occupied by the same big brands.
In residential neighbourhoods and even in office buildings, little, quirky and stylish cafes are bringing back some of the small-community aspects and personality that local coffee hangouts have provided throughout history all over the world. And they are doing it in a modern context with current styles and local highlights.
ilil Café, located in a residential neighbourhood in Cheongju, South Korea, is another beautiful spot that is both universally contemporary and locally relevant and familiar.
Designed by Seoul-based Atmoround, ilil Café introduces an overall cool, minimalist milieu accented with serene and distinctly Asian details. For the local clientele, the café feels both new and familiar.
Our favourite feature of the 52 square-metre (560 sq. ft) café is the crushed stone that is used elegantly both inside and out to connect the two, and also to connect the café to nature. To further develop the natural theme Atmoround used dry grasses and pieces of wood, natural wood furniture and live plants.
The café feels like a living room with its concrete-cast sofa facing the largest living space as in most Asian homes, and with its dining table serving as the baristas’ working counter. The cone-shaped little tables are another clever element. Actual plastic traffic cones were used as molds to create the table stands, and the plates to deposit concrete were used as the tops.
We love the exquisite attention to detail that creates this harmonious whole. Atmoround has met the demanding challenge of knowing exactly what to include and what to leave out to achieve this kind of balance. Tuija Seipell
Images: Park Woo-Jin