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Designed with Diners in Mind

While you're in Eindhoven for Dutch Design Week, drop by Usine, located in a former Philips factory, for a design-debrief or just to check out the very cool interior which seems like it has a very old soul.

By Jeanne Tan /asdf 08-10-2009

There are not many cafe/restaurants that can accommodate a very diverse range of clientele: gossiping grandmas gorging on apple pie, sharp businessmen talking shop, old friends catching up over a drink at the bar and mums getting together while their kids take over the play space. However at Cafe Restaurant Usine in Eindhoven, there is something for absolutely everyone.

Designed by Amsterdam-based design agency Bearandbunny, Cafe Restaurant Usine is located on the ground floor of the former Philips light tower, where the light bulbs were once produced. An old Philips poster with the caption 'Les plus grandes usines du monde' - The largest factories in the world - provided the inspiration for the project: it became tweaked to ‘Usine le plus grand cafe du monde’ - A grand cafe for everyone.

Using the needs of potential customers as the starting point, different zones were created: bar, cafe, brasserie, restaurant, function room, kid's corner, shop, smoking zones and the terrace. The concept of the restaurant takes a wholistic approach whereby the menu, food, graphic language, interiors and service should form part of a bigger picture. In this way, Bearandbunny were responsible for the design of almost everything from the furniture to the cafe's identity to the menu right down to the tea labels.

Using the original shell as a starting base and by referencing industrial elements from the past juxtaposed with a contemporary twist, the intention was to create the feeling as if Usine has always been there. The concrete walls, columns and exposed ceilings were left in their original state and while the custom-designed chequered flooring seems aged, it is a combination of patterns alluding to the past. Large, high steel-framed windows immediately bring to mind factory interiors and create an incredible sense of light. Furniture combines old and new: classic timber brasserie chairs work well against the mish-mash of colourful chairs in the Canteen area which is recycled seating that has been painted in a bright industrial-inspired palette. This rainbow of colours is also reflected in the banquette seating. In keeping with the history of the building, the aim of the lighting scheme was to showcase lights which were produced in The Netherlands, in particular from Philips and Raak which founded in the early 60s by former Philips employees. Vintage chandeliers, a range of glass fittings and industrial steel pendant lamps were chosen. Reflecting the concept of the interior, the Dutch French-inspired menu with many old-fashioned favourites (given a slight modern twist) also accommdates a wide range of taste-buds.

Last but not least, the bathrooms were actually the first spaces that the designers tackled in their layout. Often the forgotten space in a restaurant, Bearandbunny wanted to ensure that the bathrooms received equal amount of design attention as the rest of the restaurant, as this is often an indicator of a well-considered establishment. Filled with daylight, the spacious bathrooms are furnished with custom-design 'dressing tables' that house the wash-basins, six metre high steel doors to the cubicles and gorgeous enormous rounded mirrors. Both bathrooms feature poetic messages written on the wall that prompt the visitor to take a moment for themselves. With such a thoughtful interior that was actually designed with its clients in mind, diners will never want to leave.

Photography: Arjen Schmitz

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