The brainchild of Hong Kong developer Eliott Suen and owner of the Omotesando Koffee brand Russell Stradmoor, Origin Coffee is set up to expand the coffee culture in Myanmar and to deepen the world's appreciation for Myanmar's excellent produce.
Using only Myanmar beans, the aim is to show customers the true origin of coffee, starting from the logo that merges the mountain ranges of Shan State with a coffee bean. With that in mind, the duo approached Singapore-based firm Perinelli Design to interpret Myanmar's rich history, materials and culture into a modern coffee shop that would have a lasting impression.
"From the first time we visited the site, it became evident that we would design an island coffee bar," recalls Alessandro Perinelli, founder and studio director of Perinelli Design. "The tall curved glass facade offered a unique opportunity to create a display piece visually engaging the many different viewing angles into the unit; from the plaza and the lake promenade, we wanted it visible from every corner."
Loosely derived from the shape of a coffee bean, a centrally positioned coffee bar with a fluid, organic design grounds the high-ceilinged space. The complementing ceiling feature above draws the eye upwards, establishing a vertical connection between the first and second floor.
Made using Burmese teak, the sinuous structure captivates beyond the shop itself, drawing attention from the street – effectively capitalising on its prominent frontage. Striking from all angles, the centrepiece combines form and function as well as reinforces a floor plan that focusses activity in the centre. "The selection of teak wood and brass as the main materials is a homage to the country's architectural & cultural heritage," says Alessandro.
However, achieving the vision of the bar was the biggest challenge. "To achieve our design vision of coffee counter in sinuous curves, we had developed models, 3D models and sectional drawings which were shared with the contractor," explains Alessandro. "On our next site visit, it was evident that to facilitate the construction curves had been flattened or omitted entirely, and we were left with a simple round counter. We had everything dismantled and started again."
Perinelli Design printed out 50 full-scale sections, which were used to cut the shape of the subframe at regular intervals together with the local crew. "After one week we finally had the new and current shape," Alessandro says. "Once the key elements were set, we worked on-site to define the flow and thus, the forms defining the shop."
Highlighting the craft of coffee, a display of roasted beans in the centre island counter is linked via brass tubes to the roasting room upstairs. Beside the entrance, a storage room controls temperature and humidity levels to preserve the freshness of raw beans on display before roasting.
While the first floor has a grab-and-go concept, the second floor offers a lounge-like setting with banquette seating that invites customers to linger and relax. Here, locally sourced beans are roasted in the specially designed glass roasting room, allowing the public to observe and become part of the experience.
"Placing the Roastery in a black metal and glass room added a focal point that would bring some energy also upstairs," points our Alessandro. "Once a batch of beans is roasted, it is poured into one of the four brass funnels that are directly linked to the glass display tubes behind the counter on the ground floor, filling the room with the sound and smell of freshly roasted beans."