Called Lackawanna Café, the project occupies the ground floor and mezzanine of a mid-rise apartment building in Jersey City designed by Fogarty Finger Architecture.
Inaba Williams led the interior design of the project, creating the floor plan and cladding the large structural columns in glass-fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC), while Kyle May fabricated the colourful millwork elements spread throughout the space.
Many details of the envelope were left in their "raw" conditions in order to create a strong contrast with new elements including glossy cladding on the 22-foot-tall structural columns and the colourful millwork.
Inaba and May took advantage of the expansive windows, using light as a guide for the placement, colouration and material of the colourful millwork installed by May.
"The salient feature of the envelope is the double-height storefront window wall, which lets in generous amounts of indirect daylight," said Inaba Williams principal Jeffrey Inaba.
"This accentuates the finishes of the details – the GFRC columns' semigloss undulating surface, the countertop and table's matte seamless surfaces, the pastry case's translucent gradient exterior, and the shelves' translucent texture."
For the display case, the team chose an expressive red resin that contrasts the white, grey and wood tones of the space and complements the blue of the built-in display case, which is illuminated from above.
The lighting in the case and the "prismatic" undersides of the shelving was designed to "reveal the silhouettes of the objects on display".
Next to the shelving is a white refrigerated display, a nine-foot-tall curved structure made from bent wood that houses additional products for sale at the cafe.
Surfaces feature more toned-down colours. Tucked under the mezzanine, the service counter is 24 feet long and was painted with a light matte blue. A large "butter-colored" table occupies the middle of the space, sitting on top of the polished concrete flooring.
Inaba said that the primary goal for the cafe was to create a community hub and that the mezzanine space will be used as a gallery.
Because of the expansive light from the storefront windows, the team only needed to include three additional fixtures, which Inaba said reduced the lighting energy load for the cafe.
Inaba and May have worked on other projects in the area, including an office in Brooklyn.
"Kyle and I share similar interests in art and industrial design," said Inaba. "We both admire the know-how of making, and the technical nitty-gritty of fabricating."
"Working together, we're able to dream up objects, figure out smart ways to produce them, and have people experience them arranged together in a space," he continued.
Other projects recently completed in New Jersey include Rubenstein Commons at Princeton by Steven Holl Architects.
The photography is by Naho Kubota.
Creative direction, interior architecture: Inaba Williams – Jeffrey Inaba, Darien Williams, Nabila Morales Perez
Fabrication and millwork: Kyle May, Architect – Kyle May, John Diven, Cameron Kursel
MEP engineer: Roger Tan Engineering – Roger Tan