The Design Cafe: Bear Market Coffee
Bear Market Coffee is a trendy, urban cafe offering quality coffee and artisan food in the Dublin village of Blackrock. This charming, industrial-style cafe was founded by husband and wife duo, Stephen and Ruth. Along with their team of baristas and coffee connoisseurs, their combined knowledge and passion makes for not only a superb cup of coffee but also genuine people you'd find it hard not to engage with, even in those pre-caffeinated hours of the morning!
It's also clear that this space was no design fluke - there's a consistent aesthetic, an exemplary use of raw materials and a clear consideration for every aspect of the design. I caught up with Stephen and Ruth to find out more about the design concept behind Bear Market Coffee...
So Stephen, can you tell me a bit about Bear Market Coffee and how the shop came about?
After a brief period as aspiring graduate architects, myself and Ruth turned our attention to an entirely new career. Always quick to see an opportunity we quickly came up with the bright idea - Bear Market Coffee following on from our passion for all things quality. Named ‘Bear Market’ a cheeky nod to the bear market to which our architecture career had fallen victim. Thank God for all that! The result of the above adventure is the Bear Market Coffee that we know today. The store’s rugged design features are once again a nod to the economic market from which the business was born and is perhaps a measured reaction to the slick, elaborate décor of the bygone Celtic Tiger era.
Our coffee is just as robust and considered as the interior; perhaps another knowing riposte to the boom-time. We trained as a barista's with the boys over at Coffee Culture and despite our extensive knowledge of the product we adamantly shun the notion of coffee snobbery. We firmly believe that consumers deserve a good quality product without the intimidation. Bear Market prides itself on producing the best quality artisan espresso accompanied by freshly baked pastries, scones and cake slices produced by our sister company Pure food.
At Bear Market we believe that fine coffee is something that everyone should enjoy, and understanding is paramount to enjoyment. We want to get people inspired about quality coffee in a relaxed and inviting way.
How did you come up with the name?
This came about as a response to the times we had found ourselves in within the recession. We decided to have a bit of fun and played on the financial term 'Bear Market" . We then worked on the logo and tag line to make sure it was fun and upbeat. Our bear logo and tag line 'love your daily grind' had the perfect ring to it!
What was the design brief for Bear?
We worked along side some really talented architects from college, VAV architects. Within tight budgetary constraints our objective was to fit various functions, café related, into a minimal preordained space, with limited construction.
The concept for the design was to explore and question materiality, test the qualities of everyday materials and techniques available, while at the same time creating something unique and totally distinctive. The chosen material we selected for exploration purposes was reinforcement steel. Our intent was to fill the space with vertical lines, and thus gently fragment the space, filtering the views and people within it. This forest of steel would, we hoped, create a brutal yet honest space. The finished cafe would be perceived through the filtered vertical lines of the reinforcement bars, with shelving and benches hidden and supported within them.
With steel dominating the interior,all other elements would simply act as a backdrop. Thus the original interior was stripped back to the core. Ceiling was totally exposed, walls were treated minimally, while existing tiles were roughly pulled off, leaving gridded screed surfaces. The floor was roughly laid with recycled timber, interlaid with steel rods, where the verticals connected with the ground. This timber flooring softened the space and hid the supports of the shelving units, with the reinforcement bars piercing through it to the hidden supports below. These two new elements - horizontal lines of timber and vertical of steel, intersected each other, gridding the interior.
What is your favourite aspect of the shop?
The vibe and upbeat feel of the shop is our favourite aspect and something which is hard to figure out where it has come from. I think it is a mixture of everything including the design and warm materials, the staff and customers interaction and loving the place your work!