Polka Gelato by Vonsung


Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Raw concrete and rough limestone clad the interior of a London ice cream parlour designed by branding studio Vonsung.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Located inside a historic building in Fitzroy Square, the gelato shop is filled with bulbous black sofas and cylindrical white stools.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Ice cream packaging and signage were also designed using a monochrome palette.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

The only colours to be found in the shop are inside the ice cream cabinet.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

This is the second story on Dezeen this week about an ice cream shop in London, following an Italian gelato stall that evokes the seaside - see all our stories about ice cream parlours.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Here are some more details from Vonsung:

Polka Gelato

Vonsung recently completed the total identity design for Polka Gelato, from naming, identity, branding, signage, website to spatial design. Based in a conservation area, Fitzroy Square, Polka Gelato opens its doors to showcase their artisanal way of creating ice cream. Despite all the talk of a double-dip recession in the UK, the client's wish was to offer something enlightening, from old to young, a sense of affordable luxury amid these difficult times.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

The ambition of the new ice cream brand was to open a gelato store sourced only from the finest ingredients of precious, exotic fruits, herbs, spices and flavors. The vision was to bring the age-old history of Italian gelato to London, while a recent trip to New York sparked a new revolutionary thought – the gelato popsicle. To realize this vision, London's design studio, Vonsung, was invited to work on the dream.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

The character of the listed building situated near the Fitzroy Square, is clearly that of a London period building. The dilemma was how to avoid the ice cream parlour formula of pop-culture, primary colours interior decoration, without making a disconnected piece of modern design that clashes with the building’s original identity.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

An early decision was to place the Polka’s colourful, beautifully crafted gelatos as the central focal point and make the surrounding interior resemble the sculpted nature of the hand-made gelato.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

The concept of the store plays with the complementary characteristics and the related dichotomy between male and female; child and adult; night and day. This is reflected in the design through the formal language and tactile quality of the finish materials used. The surrounding interior is unified with a single colour used on all surfaces.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Housed inside a concrete/limestone mix surrounding, the furniture piece on the floor is designed as a strong, masculine and dynamic form whilst the lighting enunciates femininity to create more fluid contour lines. The store is designed in a more playful manner creating different zones that maintain the perspective view between them.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Joseph Sung (Creative Director Vonsung) has strived in his precedent projects to experiment variant ways to explore materials. Among the natural, old, and time-proven material, Sung has derived at lime concrete for this project. Being situated in a historical setting, Sung felt that juxtaposing old and new material would give expected meaning for both, as exemplified using external architectural material within the interior space of the gelato store.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Stemming from the client brief, Sung identified with the key word, 'artisan', and made every effort to not to allow the solid masses of concrete material to feel uncomfortable for the visitors, but feel a sense of skill, artistry of the space. The boundaries of the interior wall and ceiling were made to be permeable as possible by way of shadow gaps and openings. Also, to reduce the monolithic manner of concrete, Sung mixed limestone into the batch and applied a smooth finish to the raw concrete.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

The result was an interior space, which kindles the feeling of being an insider in an environment; simply put, it recognises what may feel like being within a creamy gelato batch. By adopting this method of design, Sung drew the attention to the timeliness of the space and architecture. All faculties of perception and senses, particularly tactility, facilitate the customer experience.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Known for increasingly severe minimalism, this project is Sung's latest interpretation of totality of branding design, however restrained and serene but rich in texture and delicate modulated light. With the aim of creating a space that will age better with time, our design creates a circular passage allowing the customer to experience the space in multiple ways and interpretations.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Furniture staged in key points throughout the store creates the spatial concept using a small space changing to an open condition.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Looking from the outside, the interior resembles a tale of a spaceship landed on the moon. If you taste a scoop of Polka Gelato, you may well think you are (over) the moon.

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Completed: August 2011
Design: Joseph Sung (Vonsung)
Design Assistants: Jing Chen, Teresa Wong
Branding: Michiko Ito (Vonsung)

Polka Gelato by Vonsung

Contractor: MKM Contracts
Lighting: iGuzzini
Carpentry: Valchromat
Furniture: Modus, HAY

Polka Gelato by Vonsung
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  • peppy chulo

    It's a ice cream store, not a concentration camp

    • H-J

      I believe the Nazi's used concrete for their bunkers and built their concentration camps out of bricks, wood and barbed wire (exactly, like European Suburbia)

      • s-k

        pretty sure concentration camps weren't exclusive to the Nazis.
        anyways, this thing relates to some sort of involuntary confinement.

        • Loz

          The British invented them….

  • CGomes

    Depressing for an ice cream shop.

  • Ick! Who would want to enjoy delicious, colorful ice cream in such a bunker?

  • alison

    Yes, I must agree, I thought this looks very 'un-fun'

    • H-J

      Finally, an ice cream parlour for adults…

      • marilena

        Finally an ice cream parlour for people with …taste

  • Vincent C

    Concrete box, yes. Black humour, yes. But not as cold as it seems. Somehow warm inside. If they were thinking of a space where it can be a multi-use space, then I agree with their scheme!

  • I love the look now but the problem with concrete is it looks dingy over time – hard to keep sparkling clean. In a food shop, I don't know. Concrete looks worn really fast which completely blows the concept of high-end and high design. Not at all practical in a food location where consumers want the place to ALWAYS look clean.

  • Paul K S

    Actually……..I love it! Cudos for thinking 'outside the box'! The only colour is the ice cream / gelato and this is what makes it so much fun. Leave the kids at home and go on a 'date'!

  • Alexandra M

    Works but lets not lose focus, it depending on how good the ice cream is !

  • Glen

    The beauty of reinforced concrete is that it ages. There in lies the beauty of using such material, I believe. It ages (gracefully) over time and maintains the pseudo industrial look? I second the opinion for this project > I love it! GC

  • Harry Klynn

    Logo looks like 10 Corso Como.

    • Nicole

      First thing that came to my mind as well!

  • zee

    strangely enough, despite trying very hard to be minimalist, this sad and sober space does not manage to be serene…

    I like the contrast of the grey with the colorful ice-cream though.
    too bad the graphic and furniture designs kill the simplicity of the concept.

  • eugmir

    brrr! cold and inhuman… like the icecream we serve!

  • Fungirl

    I worry about your idea of fun

  • Giò

    They wanted to creat a contrast between the B/W of the architectures and fornitures and the image and "idea" of the colours of the icecream… not a terrific idea, but ok… yep, not bad…

  • paparazzi

    Uhhh…. 10 Corso Como branding?

  • e1o27

    so london it hurts

  • nadine

    LOVE IT!! .. i think it looks great, and i love the black logo on the concreat such a contrast!!

  • Foci

    Maybe it doesn’t look “fun” but I don’t think that’s the intent. This is a sophisticated space for adults where one can enjoy presumably equally sophisticated ice-cream and coffee, which is perfectly fine.

    The concrete looks fantastic but I wonder if not some better, warm, lightning is needed.

  • Not a big fan of this design..the feeling of being surrounded with concrete will make you feel even colder…needs more warmth and comfy seating…not a back breaking ones:)..

  • A.H.K.

    With all the hype here, I had to visit the shop myself! If concentration camps look and feel like what I felt yesterday, I must say we would have a whole new perspective on WWII. It felt so cozy surrounded in this concrete box of a shop, I sat on the round sofa (cuttest little/big thing) and used my laptop for a hour. Experience it for yourselves, people!

  • Went in today as it's just around the corner so had to check out and support new local shop. First and foremost: The Ice Cream was lovely! But seriously…why all the BS text, it's really not necessary.

    And that black fabric sofa (yes, just the one!) & Ice Cream, not the most practical combination! And trust me, I know. Oops!!

    Still, huge improvement from the bad sandwich shop which was there before and I'll definitely be back: Because of the Ice Cream. Oh, sorry…. Gelato!!!

  • chilindrina

    If the intention was to highlight the brand's artisan approach to food i think this does not reflect it at all. There doesn't seem to be any textures, its too polished and feels sterile. The packaging is nice but not sure the interiors reflect the intent.

  • Sandra Levene

    My favourite gelato keeps on running out but that could be a good thing. The shop is wonderfully cozy, surprisingly comfortable to be surrounded by so much concrete. The day/night atmosphere is very different: I prefer the shop at night as it feels like being in a NY soho establishment.

    As for wanting to leave quickly, it was not the case! V comfortable sofa.

  • Yrag

    I think at least on rich single colored wall would make a world of difference to relieve the dungeon feel.

    I would love to know, one, five, ten years how long the shop and the look remain.

  • Pierpaolo

    The logo is frightenly similar to 10 Corso Como in Milan (the temple of fashion by Sozzani): I sense a complaint coming up soon….

  • I actually think that the logo and the whole feel of it is quite good. Specially the fact that its juxtaposed with a 'fun' icecream sort of idea. Let's face it – not many would think of something simillar, would they? Vonsung should be proud for actually taking a risk and delivering beautifully.

  • adrien

    Hard interior, it is lacking the sense of comfort although it is very stylish. It is lacking feminine touches in its design. Hard and cold. The furniture and graphics are ok. In my opinion is a sort of design that is not fluid enough , it is trying too hard to be something.

  • missmj

    I have been there. It is awful. I understand fascination with raw concrete, I do, but it does not mean that anything out of concrete will work. It is not thought well through, it does not work with cheap furniture it is sort of empty and instead of modest it is poor… Pictures look so much better than real thing

  • Drew

    Well, It closed. The agency could learn from that!

    You can’t make a place look and feel this stark and cold when the majority of the year feels that way outside. You can sell ice cream in winter, but you have to feel welcoming during cold months. Isn’t that obvious, Vonsung?

    No-one wanted to sit on butt-numbing angled footstools or a narrow outward-facing sofa (where you couldn’t look at friends while chatting). It wasn’t “filled with bulbous black sofas” – there was one.

    This was a limited space and it needed to welcome as many people as possible on days when you wouldn’t want to sit outside. So it’s all very well trying to have a “spatial concept” and considering the “related dichotomy between male and female; child and adult”, but what about the child and adult who actually walk in and want to sit down to have an ice cream?

    “All faculties of perception and senses, particularly tactility, facilitate the customer experience.” Give me a break! Apart from the gelato, which was itself lovely, the most eye-catching thing in the shop was the mechanical Japanese cat moneybox for tips! I doubt the agency would have approved, since it had colour and they cleary didn’t believe in that.

    “With the aim of creating a space that will age better with time”. Well, that didn’t happen. This wasn’t a gallery or a precinct – it was a small shop trying to run a business in tough times. I don’t think the agency helped that one bit.