Somewhere below the dense and rapidly expanding cluster of gleaming glass towers that define Guangzhou’s booming Zhujiang New Town, the red brick of JPG coffee & LAB burger signals a different kind of place. Raw, unpolished and slightly irregular, the extruded brick wall fronting the small storefront lends the new cafe a tactile and kinetic identity that stands out in a futuristic neighbourhood.
Local firm GEOM Design crafted the storefront’s unique look by stacking kiln-roasted sintered bricks. Protruding from this faceted face is a pair of walk-up service counters framed in black aluminum. The two elements together create a sense of depth and quiet drama. Even though the take-out-only restaurant has no signage or lights – a strong contrast to the cacophony of signs, storefront displays and flashing lights of its surroundings – it quietly pulls customers in.
Made of clay, argil and shale, the naturally sourced bricks are also designed to easily be crushed and recycled. Given the relatively short lifespan of Guangzhou’s fast-evolving retail landscape, the forward-looking design approach makes JPG coffee & LAB burger refreshingly practical.
Visually, the stacked bricks hint at a surprisingly engaging sense of impermanence. Their slight variations suggest a fleeting presence, one at odds with Zhujiang New Town’s monumental glass and steel towers.
Free of visible mortar, the simple bricks define the space with a pleasantly uncomplicated – and unapologetically cheap – material palette. Paired with the polished aluminum counters, the raw industrial brick face creates a compelling interplay of texture and form, highlighting the luxe sleekness of aluminum against the rough brick.
The two counters reflect the JPG coffee & LAB burger offerings, with burgers and coffee served from separate stations. Inside, the aluminum counters open out to a pair of discrete service and food preparation areas. For a restaurant and cafe without indoor space, the subtle but eye-catching design makes a virtue of its modest presence.
In the bustling Zhujiang New Town, GEOM Design has created a compelling brick face for modest take-out business JPG coffee & LAB burger.