The Espresso Lab is a specialty coffee house founded by Emarati award winning barista and coffee connoisseur, Ibrahim Al Mallouhi. With his purist and formalist approach to specialty coffee, it was crucial that the space captured the essence of his philosophy and revolved around the art of coffee making. The bar counter was cladded with a newly discovered quarry, that made it’s first debut to the world at this very location. Drawn by the dynamic terrazzo-like character of the natural stone, customers are encouraged to walk and sit around the counter to experience the baristas at work.
Maintaining the focus on the counter, the surrounding elements were kept pure. Striking a delicate balance between elegant sophistication and progressive minimalism. The soft grey walls and ceilings result in a monochromatic muted atmosphere that enhances the overall architecture of the space. The rattan chairs are reminiscent of traditional oriental coffee houses, adding a nostalgic cue to the experience. The natural beech finish of the furniture compliments the muted palette of the space, framed by the black patina steel details. Whereas the copper accents found in the lighting fixtures and signage pick up the warm hues of the stone.
One of the challenges of the space was the long 1.5 meter (5 foot) wide corridor at the corner of the shop. Not wide enough to place regular dining tables, a decision as made to integrate long custom bench seating. When seated in this once narrow corridor, one can enjoy watching the diverse and eclectic design community of D3 strolling by and going about their day. Furthermore, curving the ceiling evoked a cozier and more comfortable experience, while reiterating the delicate form of the curved counter – that ties the space together.
Situated in the heart of Dubai Design District, The Espresso Lab was intended to appeal to both coffee enthusiasts and the young upcoming design community. The aim was to step away from the typical modern industrial trend of coffee shops and curate an experience that felt more like a coffee museum than a café.