Partner Ivo Redaelli
Café-à-porter is a boutique takeaway coffee and pastry shop in the heart of Lugano, Switzerland. It is located on the ground floor of one of the city’s elegant 19th century “palazzo nobile”, once grand homes lining the boulevard facing the lake. The cafe is directly opposite the entrance to Parco Ciani, the city’s beautiful lakeside park.
The intention of the project is to create a modern, sophisticated and refined space while retaining the elegance and charm of the old building. As such the cafe itself is a contemporary, light, bright installation, with a fresh aesthetic that takes advantage of the generous dimensions of the exisiting space, put together with a simple palette of materials.
The serving counter is a single element in white corian with glass display zones that runs the length of the space and is large enough for storage and fridges, keeping the area streamlined. The walls and shelving are all a clean white, while the natural timber floor brings warmth. The large mirrrored wall reflects the trees from the park across the road and creates the illusion of an endless ceiling.
In order to hide the mechanical area and tubes, we designed a suspended ceiling using laser-cut polystyrene. The roof above is painted a very dark grey so the lightweight cut-out “cafe a porter“, ceiling appears to float above. It emphasises the height of the space while reinforcing the simple graphic design discreetly displayed in the cafe below.
The existing building’s facade is a fine example of the city’s 19th century architecture with elegant and decorative stonework. This idea of ornament has been reintroduced to the cafe via its new ceiling. However, rather than the opulent celiings often seen in that epoch, this is a contemporary interpretation, echoing the past.
The cafe, busy with customers coming and going throughout the day, animates this street corner too at night. In the evening it is lit from within like the night sky with coloured led lights, changing from blue to green to purple and pink.