A person’s morning coffee often sets the tone for their day. And while the effort to carve out time for relaxation and reflection itself plays a large part, one’s environment is also key to creating this sense of ritual. On the ground level of the Dubai International Financial Center, Orijins Coffee Shop — with its minimal, nature-inspired interior by VSHD Design — serves as the perfect backdrop for this daily routine.
Drawing inspiration from stones collected from the shores of the Red Sea, the cafe is designed to celebrate the beauty of nature’s imperfections. Its interior forgoes the clean lines that adorn the skyscrapers of Dubai’s financial district, embracing, instead, organic and natural forms and textures. Upon entering the café, the atmosphere is at once cave-like and airy; the space’s curved plaster walls and polished concrete floors act as a blank canvas for the rest of the design elements.
Like any respectable café, the coffee bar is the centrepiece of the space. Hewn from solid marble, the counter is comprised of seven pieces, with a combination of Atumnus Dark, Caprina Bianco and Pietra di Medici marbles imparting subtle variation between shades of grey. Though the blocks appear to have been freshly quarried, shaped only by the forces of nature, each abstract form was meticulously hand-sketched by VSHD Design, converted to a 3D digital model and fed through a CNC machine to achieve the final result. This marriage of technology and craft nods to the art and culture of brewing coffee, which relies on the skill and knowledge of baristas who make use of new technological advances to refine their brews.
The bar’s visual weight stands in pleasing contrast to the lightness of the interior. So as not to overshadow this impactful move, the designers have carefully layered the space with subtler elements. Behind the bar, for instance, a thin LED strip by Davide Groppi lines the floor, delineating the space. Meanwhile, a reveal overhead brings attention to the understated curvature of the ceiling.
For many caffeine enthusiasts, coffee is akin to a religion. It’s only apt, then, that VSHD Design describes the space as offering the “sanctitude of an ancient chapel.” Bathed in warm natural light, which casts shadows on the earthy plastered walls, the space celebrates the divine beauty of the natural world. While it was not designed to mimic nature per se, the designers sought to recreate the feelings of calmness and serenity elicited by the sea and desert landscapes native to Dubai. The space’s muted palette inspired by sand, shells, stone and wood makes for a cohesive interior.
The rest of the interior can only be described as sparse. Arranged in vignettes — two areas for lounging and another two for dining — the café evokes a residential feel. The designers selected minimal furnishings, instead placing a spotlight on the architecture itself. These curvaceous forms are reflected in the furnishings, and balanced by sharp angles and sleek finishes, using materials as diverse as sleek black metal, warm wood, rustic stone, reflective glass, rich leather and textured boucle and fur.
The act of preparing coffee is, in and of itself, a feast for the senses. Through the use of light, colour and material, Orijins Coffee Shop has set the stage for this sensory experience, creating a grounding space amidst the chaos of Dubai’s urban life.
VSHD Design has created a tranquil refuge with a richly textured material palette in the heart of the city’s financial district.