The introduction of Nespresso to North America, has come in the form of a stylish boutique-cafe in Montreal. (Nespresso has long been a popular brand in Europe.) Undertaken by Thibodeau Architecture + Design (TAD), who based their work on the European model, Nespresso Boutique Cafe combines retail with hospitality in ways both inviting and practical.
According to Jean Robert Thibodeau, president of the Canadian firm, the look is "very chic and polished, very high end. With the help of Consult Consult Design, we were able to translate Nespresso’s personality in the existing building."
That the existing building is a Montreal heritage site provided the team with a series of challenges. "The building had to be redone entirely," says Thibodeau, "while keeping in mind the impact on the quality of the end result. Due to the stringent schedule, most of the construction details had to be developed as the construction took place and according to the constant flow of new information."
The two-floor store is divided into a boutique area and a "bar" area. Thibodeau and Co. sought visual coherence "by treating both areas as one unique entity, regardless of the slightly different functions." Thereby, the same materials and finishes are used from one floor to the next, and the furniture on both floors has been realized by RS Agencement Steiner SA, a Swiss company who has had extensive previous working experience with Nespresso in Europe.
"The resulting unity is also emphasized by the ample opening between the two floors, which keeps the visual link between the different activities," he says, "and the use of transparent handrails to diminish the visible obstacles that would interfere in the fluidity of the space. The coherence is also strengthened by the fact that the same coffee machines used to make the coffee downstairs are sold to the customer upstairs. Nonetheless, the underlying idea was more that of a boutique inviting guests in to taste its product rather than a coffee shop selling you its machines."
Thibodeau is proud of the interconnectedness of the floors. He explains: "The round coffee bar initiates a curve that is first carried on the floor and then emphasized by the stairs. It creates a harmonious and vibrant, unified space. The strong vertical connection creates a dynamic and diverse space, tailored to Nespresso’s distinction. The verticality of the space is showcased by the continuous graphic panels between the first and second floor.
"The opening is also the culminating point of the project, bringing openness and clarity to the whole boutique and coffee shop, while the views from both below and above accentuate the visual coherence of the project."