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Monday, May 20, 2024

La Bottega Milanese by Ekho Studio

Ekho Studio helps elevate Milanese culture in Leeds for cult coffee bar La Bottega Milanese.

Ekho Studio has completed work on a project for La Bottega Milanese, a 15-year-old, Leeds-based brand with a pronounced Milanese cultural dedication (#bemilanese) and a cult following for its fiercely-independent, hip and buzzing coffee bars. Customers visit the brand’s two outlets in the city to enjoy the best specialty coffee around and to sample a range of continental Milanese snack food, patisserie and other refreshments.

External seating area

Both the brand’s outlets have both been an instant success since opening, thanks in part to the simplicity of the La Bottega Milanese offer, along with its dedication to quality and the great atmosphere and feel of its cafés. When the business was taken over in 2022 by Katia Pereira, the new owner looked to breathe fresh air into the brand, starting with an aesthetic uplift of the brand’s original flagship in Bond Court, on the southern edge of Leeds city centre.

The brief asked for an open layout that was simple and easy to navigate

“The client’s vision was to elevate the interior design, whilst maintaining the existing dynamic vibe and overall monochrome aesthetic,” explained Ekho Studio Founding Partner Sarah Dodsworth. “We were asked to focus on material quality, improve the product display and layout and enhance the overall customer experience.”

New concrete-effect vinyl sheet flooring wraps up the vertical face of the counter for a seamless finish

With footfall high and many customers in a hurry, it was important the coffee bar’s layout remained open, simple and easy to navigate, whilst at the same time increasing the offer’s design sophistication for those running the store, with behind-the-counter functionality and services a priority too. When it came to its colour palette, Ekho Studio kept to the brand’s original monochrome look but softened the palette slightly with the introduction of planting and the use of neutral colours and touches of sage green. Ekho Studio also looked to utilise existing finishes where possible and to be considerate of the ongoing maintenance and upkeep in their specifications of anything new.

The counter features a new black solid surface with a flecked pattern

“Overall, the site now boasts a clean and modern aesthetic with matt black metals and concrete-effect finishes combining with a neutral colour palette and natural textures” Ekho Studio Designer Kath Brookes added. “Sculptural live and preserved foliage displays sit alongside raw textured concrete and monolithic black forms, punctuated by warm white pendant lighting, whilst the new dedicated display area and bespoke, angled fridge display has enabled the expansion of merchandised products and goods, making the overall merchandising offer much sleeker.”

Improving product display was a major element of the brief

The new, streamlined layout now includes 40 covers inside and 42 outside, allowing for up to 82 seated customers at any one time – an increase of 12 over the earlier layout. The service counter, located to the right of the space, features a new black solid surface with a flecked pattern by Durat. Ekho Studio had already used this product at their Globe Point project, also in Leeds, which is where the La Bottega Milanese owner had seen and loved it, going on to request it for this project. New vinyl sheet concrete-effect flooring wraps up the vertical face of the counter for a seamless, minimalist finish.

Monolithic forms are punctuated by warm white pendant lighting

A flecked finish is also used for the rear wall in this area, with the behind-the-counter food prep area also completely re-worked to be more practical operationally for staff. A separate coffee pick-up point and barista station is located at a separate counter just beyond the pay station to separate any build-up of queues.

The cafe serves own-brand coffee and a range of continental Milanese snack foods and pattiserie

A new high table, seating up to 8 people, is located to the rear, catching the customer’s eye on entry and providing an alternate group setting with upholstered Platform stools by MAD with a backrest for ensured comfort to one side and Mater bar stools to the other. Directly behind the high table is an existing light installation, originally created by Lights On Design, and retained as highly effective, a favourite of the client’s and it worked well with the new scheme, drawing the customer’s eye through to the back of the space.

New furniture includes Pedrali Stylus black tables, the Platform Chair by Workstories and a bespoke joinery banquette

New upholstered seating in the main central areas is the Platform Chair from Workstories, featuring a sage green/grey seating pad, with black ash veneer backs in keeping with the new square black tables used in the space – the Pedrali Stylus. The identical tables allow for easy reconfiguration, whilst the incorporation of pieces by Italian brand Pedrali in the scheme is also a nod to the Milanese feel of the café. Furniture was sourced in consultation with the design team and client by The Furniture Practice, with the overall aim of installing much more robust and durable items to respond to the very busy environment.

Sculptural live and preserved foliage works well with the monochrome interior

A new bespoke joinery banquette runs along the entire left-side window elevation of the space, upholstered in sage green. Bespoke planters for the dried grass feature run parallel to it, adding a soft visual backdrop for people looking in from the windows and streetscape beyond. The raw concrete columns in the space and the warm pendant lighting between the window bays add to the layering of textures and tones. External furniture includes flip-top Ypsilon 3star base tables from Pedrali and stackable chairs – both the Pedrali Tribeca and the armchair-style Tribeca 3669 – offering easy removal and security overnight.

A new high table to the rear of the space sits in front of a lighting installation by Lights On Design

“The space has been elevated to create an amazing social and warm place for customers and employees to enjoy,” said Katia Pereira, Director of La Bottega Milanese, adding that the new interiors “symbolise the mix of traditional Italian coffee with modern and industrial architecture.”

www.ekho.studio | IG: @ekhostudio_design

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