Sporting concrete walls, unremarkable colour palettes and spartan furniture, industrial-chic cafes are a dime a dozen in Hong Kong these days, which makes NCDA‘s latest collaboration with 21-year-old New Zealand coffee brand Fuel Espresso all the more special. Choosing to forgo the current status quo of cafe interior design, NCDA has instead created an atmospheric, old-world gentlemen’s club at ICC in West Kowloon that bestows upon the humble coffee the same respect as a rare, barrel-aged dram of whiskey would demand.
The darkened, masculine interior takes inspiration from one Mr. Brown, an apparently real-life public relations consultant who played a key role in Fuel Espresso’s early growth, and whose love of automobiles, collectable antiques and the finer things in life are reflected in the design elements of the espresso bar. This branch will serve as the first in a new concept to be rolled out across Fuel Espresso’s future planned locations worldwide.
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The marble espresso bar is the highlight of the cafe, acting as a stage for the baristas to show their work while clad in sharp uniforms by The Armoury.
The abstract, crisp lines of Cubism meet the lush upholstery of old-world member's clubs in the cafe interior.
Custom-designed artisanal details such as Modernist-style linear pendants and wall lamps edged in brushed brass break the mould of stereotypical cafe decor.
Distinctive racing green leather banquettes are inspired by vintage car seats in a nod to Mr. Brown's love of classic car design.
Hexagonal, modular mirror panels that integrate lights and speakers into the wall lend the ambience of a train carriage.
A communal high table finished with a sculptural marble base encourages patrons to pull up a leather-upholstered stool to enjoy a casual drink.
A custom, geometrically designed chessboard by NCDA pays homage to Mr. Brown's favourite pastime.
ICC, Sky 100 Main Entrance
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Photography: Dennis Lo