Architect Ole Scheeren just can’t resist the coffee at Dean & DeLuca. While designing Prada’s iconic New York flagship store more than 15 years ago, he would regularly dash across the street for a caffeine fix, lured by the café’s strong brew. Back then, he was working for OMA under Rem Koolhaas, his longtime mentor. But in the time since, he has opened his own namesake firm, swearing off coffee along the way. That is until recently, when he reunited with Dean & DeLuca to help reimagine the company with a whole new retail concept. “I’m hooked again now,” he jokes.
The prototype is now on view at Design Miami. Called Stage, the café comprises a rectangular counter crowned by a halo of sorts, both forms clad in mirror-polished stainless steel. “It will reflect the idiosyncrasies of whatever site it occupies,” says Scheeren, explaining how the modular system will take on a new presence depending on where it is installed. Baristas, cashiers, and servers work away within the geometric volume, lit from above by a carefully calibrated grid of LEDs and warm spotlights. Food, meanwhile, is displayed in dishes atop an ingenious topography of peaks, rather than some standard flat countertop. The result is a mix of sculpture and theater in the round.
Over the course of the next year, Scheeren will work with Dean & DeLuca to roll out new spaces across America, all the while finishing up skyscrapers in Malaysia and Thailand, not to mention a cultural center in China. As he notes, “I’m gonna need lots of coffee in the months ahead.”