Much like the form and philosophy of the Mikado game for which the project has been inspired by, a serendipitous mix of effortless charm and thoughtful structure defines this NINETYs cafe stand at AIA Central as a welcoming oasis of peace and tranquility - right at the beating heart of Hong Kong’s financial center with all its hustle and bustle.
As the wise words of Sufi poet Rumi once described serendipity in life: what you seek is seeking you. Once a game of Mikado begins with the bundle of bamboo sticks dropped in a pile, each participant take turns with physical skills and considered moves: the random presence of each stick is taken advantage of as a strategic tool to carry the game forward - what has been unconsciously and consciously planned would together add in layers of intrigue and fun.
The same goes for the design process of this particular NINETYs cafe, which is about creating delightful surprises with hand-drip coffee to conveniently energize office workers in an otherwise business-as-usual neighborhood lacking dining options: the three English letters making up the client's brand name "AIA" appear to be made out of bamboo sticks with its symmetric shape which came to life in a rhythmic interlocking structure: an iconic cafe stand to fit seamlessly within the glass-clad elevator lobby of a skyscraper - all the while completed in the signature color scheme and pendant light to embody the design identity of NINETYs.
Maximizing visibility and transparency for all visitors to the building, the cafe stand enables the unobstructed panorama of a changing cityscape without any solid wall, as its table surface also perfectly morphs into the surroundings by insisting on the choice of dolomite just as the lobby floor, so that the emphasis remains on the cafe stand’s clever structure.
Much like the rules of the game where a participant races to pick up as many sticks without moving other bamboo sticks at each time, the overall effort is about elegant simplicity which will speak volume as time goes by, despite any limitations: a minimalist cuboid with its edges accentuated with black iron and warm wooden planks, whose careful intersection skillfully comes to a high note with its ceiling and back wall not dissimilar to bamboo sticks sprinkled across the surfaces - paying tribute to the very essence of the Mikado game itself.
Completed in 2019.