Tokyo cafe interior by CUT Architectures
is modelled on a laboratory

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A white-lacquered steel ceiling grid, plants under strips of lighting and white tiled surfaces feature in this Tokyo cafe, designed by CUT Architectures to resemble a laboratory (+ slideshow).

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Parisian studio CUT Architectures, which also designed the original Coutume Cafe in Paris, created Café Coutume Aoyama as a cross between a cafe and a science lab.

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They decorated the interior with white tiles on the lower half of the walls and the serving counter, filling the space with a range of coffee and science-related paraphernalia.

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"Our aim was to keep the strong identity we created for the Coutume brand while adapting it to the Tokyo location," explained the architects. "At the crossing between a Parisian coffee shop and a laboratory, Café Coutume Aoyama offers a two sided space."

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Square LED panels are fixed to the ceiling, illuminating the coffee counter, serving area and cashier at the entrance to the cafe.

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Glass coffee beakers that resemble science apparatus are on display on the front counter, while further into the main area, a tiled bar with a small selection of Japanese plants sits adjacent to the street front window.

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Clusters of chairs and tables fill the seating area, while a larger table towards the rear of the cafe supports a long planter box, also filled with moss and other greenery.

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Packets of coffee plus tea cups and saucers are displayed in hollowed-out sections of the tiled walls.

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The cafe floor is patterned with varying layouts of oak parquet: square sections at the entrance, a traditional layout in the main seating area and a Hungarian point pattern on the way to the restrooms.

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Glass and tiled shelving to one side of the seating area is stacked with coffee, plates and cutlery, concealing the restrooms behind.

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Ceramic hanging lights with tubular bulbs are suspended through sections of the roof grid, while coat hooks and lighting fixtures are attached at various points along the side walls.

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Other cafes in Japan include this cafe in Shizuoka with a car park extending into its interior and another cafe in Tokyo with table legs designed like tree branches.

Photography is by David Foessel.

Here's a project description from CUT Architectures:


Café Coutume Aoyama

Following the flagship café Coutume rue de Babylone in Paris opened in 2011 and the coffee cart within the Finnish Institute in Paris in 2013 both designed by CUT architectures, we’ve been invited to develop the first café Coutume abroad, in the heart of Tokyo in the Aoyama district.

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Our aim was to keep the strong identity we created for the Coutume brand while adapting it to the Tokyo location. At the crossing between a Parisian coffee shop and a laboratory, Café Coutume Aoyama offers a two sided space: On the entrance side the laboratory is set-up under a white hygienic grid ceiling with integrated LED panels lighting up the bar. The bar and cashier is composed of two tiled blocks referring to the chemistry boards.

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On the other side, the seating area is set under the hollow version of the bar ceiling: white lacquered frames in continuity with the ceiling grid of the laboratory area.

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The entire flooring is made out of oak parquetry using different layouts: Chantilly layout in front of the bar, Hungarian layout on the way to the restrooms, traditional layout for the seating area. A single tile is integrated within the parquetry in front of the bar, echoing with the treatment of the custom-made tables of the seating area.

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The wall base of the interior walls as well as on the exterior façade is clad with white tiles up to 1m creating a continuous line surrounding the entire space both inside and outside.

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On the street side another block made of tiles and glass is hosting a roasting sampler, high stools and small Japanese plants. Behind the bar, a translucent glazed wall hiding the kitchen integrates glass shelves for display.

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In the back, a large communal table with a large planter offers ten seats under an illuminated printed glass volume. Following the ceiling grid the hanging lights are made out of ceramic lamp holders and Japanese tubular bulbs. One the surrounding walls vintage French ceramic bathroom fixtures are combined with oak sticks to create coat hangers and holders for the mobile lamps used by the workers during the construction of the café.

Concept and drawings: CUT architectures
Local architects following construction: Baycrews
Project Name: Café Coutume Aoyama
Program: café and bites
Address: 1-5-8 Minamiaoyama, Tokyo, Japan
Client: Baycrews Coutume Div.
Size: 85m²
Cost: N.A.

Floor plan of Coutume-cafe-Aoyama-in-Tokyo-Japan-by-CUT-Architectures
Floor plan - click for larger image
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Section one - click for larger image
Interior section of Coutume-cafe-Aoyama-in-Tokyo-Japan-by-CUT-Architectures
Section two - click for larger image
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Section three - click for larger image
Coutume-cafe-Aoyama-in-Tokyo-Japan-by-CUT-Architectures
Section four - click for larger image
  • SteveLeo

    Absolutely superb, love every detail.