From 1781, when it was built, Cafeneaua Veche (The Old Café) has been a landmark. Its generous facade, with white walls and dark roof (in high contrast with all the narrow, taller and grey buildings around) and also its function - one of the few built especially to be a café (in a renowned, old established district of trade spaces and small workshops for everyday goods), set a huge difference between the neighborhood and this quite unusual building from the corner of Covaci (blacksmiths) and Sepcari (hat makers) streets.
As the revival of old Bucharest center reaches its peak, converting low brick vaulted undergrounds into glamour clubs and trade spaces into fancy restaurants and pubs, our client decided it's time for a Mediterranean, light and solar touch for Cafeneaua Veche. So, The Old Café becomes a playground in which we try to blend its historical values and the client's demands. As the italian-like restaurant image had nothing to do with the space, we turned to historical search... and we found a connection between the ottoman (Istanbul) influence of the 18th century in Bucharest and the byzantine (Constantinopol) influence in Italy. So, we decided that the building should be a place where one could 'discover' traces of byzantine times, by means of painted paintings and furniture, mosaics and some objects trouvés.
On every piece we have designed, "time left its marks": paintings look old and time-worn; all the furniture of the restaurant (custom made or provided by Romanian manufacturers) was patinated; mosaic models come right from historical byzantine designs. Even the bottles which decorate the front of the bar have a twist touch - they are all slightly melted, so that the original form is still recognizable but they look as if forgotten in the hot oven.
The ground floor is dedicated to the Vecchio restaurant and the kitchen. Filled with natural light, the space is designed in shades of white, beije, azure and light red. Only the vibrant upholstery and the natural wood details contrast with the pale and solar range of colors. The street facing spaces, divided by walls with generous central arches, contain the bar, the pizza bar and the dining space.
The bar is surrounded by colorful stools (provided by Moir) and couches and functions as a Happy Hour space for coffee and drinks. The pizza bar connects with the kitchen via a small window near the custom made and mosaic decorated oven; the working space is separated from the client's space by a massive structural beam, decorated with painted burlesque characters. In the dining area, we mixed slightly different types of chairs and colorful upholstery. Besided the wine display and the pendant lights, the concept of the restaurant design emphasizes on floor and wall discrete decoration. This natural light flooded space has open view to the urban plazza right in front of the building, so the plan layout is also subordinated to the best exterior view angles. The Evolution Club on the underground is connected to the restaurant via a circulation area, containing the stairs, the club's wardrobe and its separate entrance; the dark painted walls contrast with the led lighted custom made railing and the Spacewalker pendant lights suspended randomly. The design of the club takes some elements from the byzantine decoration approach of the restaurant - the painted painted transverse arch in the middle of the space and the motifs of the hand painted floor. In this eclectic mix of original brick vaults and oriental decoration details, the contemporary high-tech bar looks like an alien ship landed from nowhere. The floating organic shape of 21 meters long light green HI-MACS® is a consequence of the demand for a space design easy to adapt to clubbing and dancing on the counter but also to theater, fashion or televisions shows and events. The complex shape, made of 25 modules of thermoformed sheets, glued and sanded together in order to look like a single huge piece, is fabricated by Atvangarde Surfaces. The bar provides room for 2 bartenders and a DJ and is fully equipped with sinks, ice tanks, bottle and glass storage and also a DJ’s area. The central part of the U-shape consists of a circular, cantilevered HI-MACS® shape, giving the bar a floating effect. Above the center of the bar, lighted by suspended neons, a floating, transparent, ice-like custom made modular comb holds the bottles. The space design emphasizes the original structure. The center of each arch divided space is marked, on the patinated concrete of the ground floor, by a different design of rectangular oriental carpet patterns, entirely hand painted, some of them having a tv screen inserted in the middle of the surface, protected by a transparent glass sheet. The couches and stools are mixed with custom made pieces in vibrant colors. Some MDF fireplace masks, painted in dark purple, light blue, yellow and fucsia are placed between the transversal arches and function as high tables for the stools. Besides the chandeliers made of garden hoses, the led lights inserted into the ground floor and the HDMI system allow dramatic changes of the atmosphere. Each and every source can be operated individually, leading to a large number of scenarios. The general light is oriented from ground to top, so that the vaults and arches are flooded in light, making the space look higher. The restrooms have different designs. The ladies space is a mix of Tarkett Pixel/Led vinyl and a natural moss and lichens wall, with custom shaped mirrors and colorful floorstand sinks in front of it, while the gentlemen area is a combination of abstract wall patterns, eclectic details and apparent brick.