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52: 37 - Colazione in Bottega

Name: Colazione in Bottega 
Address: Vicolo Bastion 5/7, Bassano Del Grappa
Owned by: Frederico
Served By: Frederico & Kalid
Design by: Frederico

This weeks Project 52 is bought to you by fellow design nerd and Super Tectonics great friend, Regina Kaluzny.

Wherever you go in Italy for coffee, to the fried food take away or even the train station, you are pretty much guaranteed a great beverage. Through the cities I have travelled, most places although cosy and stylish (Italy really does ooze style) are a little worn and dated.  Therefore, it was so exciting to come across Colazione in Bottega. With it’s great fit out and numerous quirky details the space creates a vibrant environment to work alongside your coffee, providing you with your morning energy boost.

So what's good about Colazione in Bottega?

Colazione sits on a street corner right between the town centre of Bassano del Grappa and the local hostel. Peeking through the hostel window, you make a note of it as somewhere to go for breakfast the next morning for pure convenience's sake, but also due to some outrageous elements viewed from afar.

Having breakfast, you look up towards a hanging bicycle, perched above two giant lampshades supported by  thin tree trunk posts, painted white.  Next to these wobbly trunks, eight brown electrical wires neatly go up the wall, attached with mint timber planks that match the colour of the lampshades.  ]This slither of order is lost again at the ceiling where wires fan out to power the ceiling fans, ceramic chandeliers and emergency lighting. Order hidden in a chaos of eclectic details is Colaziane's theme.

One thing that really speaks of the chaos are the cables… everywhere! They cut across walls, weave between bench legs and bounce along shelves.  Sometimes they look like a mess but overall they definitely fit into what is good about this space.  They create a strong aesthetic of movement, which is what Frederico, the owner and designer wanted the cafe to be about.

The space is arranged for easy circulation. The counters are positioned along the back and side walls with seating along two glass facades, leaving a large area in between. Here there is movement between the two display counters, back and forth as you decided what to eat. This open area also provides space for milling about whilst waiting for a take away. 

Tables are sleek, thin round black steel plates in two heights.  And in terms of seating, you have a variety of choice.  At the tall tables there are recycled timber and steel stools, otherwise balloon chairs with comfortable green padding or white woven cane creations on black frames.  Outside there are many more options, with colour padded seating which emits a very eclectic feel, not much here is standard and that’s what makes it so great.

Coffee comes in basic white mugs on different coloured saucers.  Food is displayed on varying ceramic bowls or unique glass jars.  Frederico purchased all of the café’s ceramics from the neighbouring town's pottery factory. They had a closing down sale a few years ago and he had some of it painted by locals.  He himself, sometimes with the help of his tradesmen friends has designed and built much of the furniture in the café. And upon looking around you realise this uniqueness with quirky features such as all of the counters being moveable on castors.

Lastly, the bathroom itself is simple, with a palette consisting of plywood, white tiles and a large mirror.  Whether intentional or not, a change in the tile pattern at the doorway gives some interest and brightens the overall feel.

What could be better about Colazione in Bottega?

The area outside the bathroom.  An exciting and busy corner of the cafe advertises the way down to the 'bagno' (bathrooms). Unfortunately you quickly realise you are now leaving the colour and warmth of the cafe as you make your way into a large and neglected space. It is obvious that this area is often used, it is the thoroughfare to the kitchen and bathroom, whilst also functioning as a workshop and storeroom for the constant refiguring of the café. There are some interesting objects here - an elongated timber desk, mirrors and timber wall panels, with electric cables stretching across the ceiling. But with only one dim marine lamp illuminating this huge room, all of it is sadly lost in darkness.

The dramatic shift of the stimulation overload upstairs and the dreariness of the back area is a let down.  Some warm lighting around the walls would immensely improve the space. Or, if the intention is to keep clients away from the workshop, a simple grey exterior curtain like the one so successfully used in the portico upstairs would greatly improve this.

What's its thing?

Movement and change. Frederico has designed all the furniture so that it can be moved because he believes his place 'needs to move to be alive'.  Six times a year the staff will move the shop around: the counters and benches, the seating, the loose furniture.  This of course means that the review about café layout will be invalid in a month two, but at least it was captured in writing and images! Frederico loves the fact that customers will come in any day and feel like they are in an entirely new place.

Defining Design Details

  • Order and Chaos: The interior is playing tug of war and the show is spectacular
  • Wheels: What easier way to make everything move?
  • Cables: Weaving their way between furniture, work spaces and storage areas and it is amazing to watch!
  • Collected objects: Random collections of customer's keys at the counter and ceramics is quite fun.
  • Handrails to Bathrooms: 2 types of interesting handrails - rope on one side, chunky industrial black steel on the other – fun!
  • Terrazzo flooring: Terrazo in Australia is not always a convincing material, but in the north of Italy it is amazing! In a large and well-lit space it is lively.

The cafe changes constantly to work with the owner's life at the time.  Frederico says that for the next café concept, he will be looking to concrete and it will be interesting to see the next incarnation, and how such a heavy material as concrete will be inserted within an adaptable space.

Thank you to the wonderful Regina for her Brilliant Project 52 Review. We have loved seeing all your overseas adventures online and living vicariously through you. As much as we want you to keep on having fun away, we also can’t wait till you come back to Melbourne town so we can Design Nerd it up together.