Attention to Appetite
Friday, January 10th, 2014
By Amber Gibson
Photos by Karen Sterling
Slinging Belgian waffles, both Brussels and Liège style, from trucks and carts across New York City since 2009, Wafels & Dinges has a cult following in the Big Apple. Ellen Depoorter and Jeroen De Schrijver, founders of D+DS Architecture, were partners in the venture with owner Thomas Degeest from the beginning, designing the brand’s first logo and truck and even brainstorming with Degeest about the menu. So it was only natural that D+DS would design the company’s first café.
The Belgian wafel was introduced to the United States during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, so Depoorter and her team wanted to create a 1960s diner feel. Shelves along the perimeter showcase antique waffle irons, customer artwork, and sepia bicycling photos, adding a nostalgic touch to warm the space. The storefront itself is a simple blackened steel frame, allowing maximum transparency for guests to see the baking process. A counter runs the full width of the window, allowing people to lean against it from outside, or sit on bar stools inside.
The iconic floating counter, created by Hard Décor, was the heart of the design process. “We are especially proud of the counter,” Depoorter says. “It is key to the customer’s experience and interaction with the product and the staff. It needed to be special and stand out as an independent object, a little like the truck.” The counter is made from a continuous durable stone top similar in color and texture to Belgian blue stone. White metal panels with yellow accents and ribbons with rivets to cover the seams lend an industrial flair.
“It was also important to show attention to craftsmanship in the detailing, as the baking of wafels is a true art,” Depoorter says. “They’re using centuries- old traditional Belgian recipes with top ingredients, and the baking itself requires experience and finesse. Baking is the star of the space.”
The extensive details in Wafels and Dinges were an exercise in creative problem solving for Hard-Décor, a design-build and metal-fabrication company based in Brooklyn. “Almost every piece of furniture went through at least a couple of versions,” says owner Daniel Bailey, “modified based on testing and assessing life-size prototypes. The 22-foot oval service counter, with all its functions and related fixtures and details, required the incorporation of wood, glass, and stone into our regular metal-working routine, and pushed us to find solutions and operate out of our vocational comfort zone.”
A global, full-service lighting and electrical distributor, Capitol Light has been a trusted source for quality and innovative lighting since 1926. Capitol Light has worked with D+DS since 2011 on a range of project undertakings and continues to collaborate with them to explore unique and energy-efficient design plans that fit their shared vision.