Firm: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Blue Bottle 600 California
This capsule café, located within a 500-square-foot retail nook in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District, plays with classic laws of perspective and illusion to create a space that is more than it may appear at first glance. A crisply framed tube of maple—rolling from floor to wall to ceiling—is inset within an otherwise neutral space, drawing guests’ focus inward to the heart of the café. At its rear, a shadowy mirror softly reflects the light from the exterior while also reinforcing the gesture of the tube. A single line of lights cuts through the center of the space, further emphasizing the visual principles of single-point perspective to make the café seem larger than its true footprint.
The materials palette is kept to a minimum, so as not to overwhelm a space of such diminutive scale. The white Corian coffee bar, with its simple cubic form, floats over the floor, allowing the gesture of the tube to remain as uninterrupted as possible. Accents of plainsawn hickory at the custom-designed pastry case provide a hint of texture and detail to complement the otherwise taut, smooth surfaces of the interior. The blurred reflections in the gray mirror offer shadowy glimpses of the passing California Street cable cars, emulating the distinctive quality of light that is the hallmark of foggy San Francisco.