Gabellini Sheppard Associates designed the haute vegetarian cuisine restaurant in close collaboration with Giorgio Armani and the restaurant operator. The 3,500 square-foot Cafe required a casual bar space for coffee service and light lunch as well as a more formal 80- seat dining area. The Café occupies a two level space on the corner of Via dei Giardini and Via Croce Rossa on an important public plaza, enjoying high visibility and urban views through a full height glass storefront.
The main entrance to the café from the plaza opens into a double height atrium space that connects the ground level bar area to the first level restaurant suspended above. A long stainless steel bar with a floating curved glass counter extends between the atrium bar space and a more intimate seating area below the suspended floor above. A backlit translucent glass corner invites the customer to a walnut staircase winding discreetly around a soft blue corner element to the restaurant area above.
Three sides of the restaurant seating area are wrapped by sliding blue and white acrylic translucent panels that form a horizontal light band around the space. Transverse light slots in the ceiling accentuate the sleek horizontality of the space, projecting views towards the atrium space and the public plaza beyond. The double height atrium wall pierces the restaurant level, dematerializing at its edge to allow views into an open kitchen through a suspended clear glass corner. An American walnut bench with flexible cushions provides perimeter seating while custom carved corian café tables with elegantly curving bases appear to spring from the poured concrete flooring.