Coffee Break

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Photos by Tony Soluri 

Featured Company: O'Kelly + Kasprak

Locations: Chicago, IL

Project Type: Cafe

Project Name: Cityfront Café and Illy Espressamente Café at NBC Tower

Designing anything requires good communication, a task that can become challenging when dealing with parties across country boundaries. When O’Kelly + Kasprak was asked to design a new café and an Illy coffee bar for the NBC Tower in Chicago, Belinda O’Kelly found herself in communication with a number of contacts overseas. “For the project, we were working with the building’s owners out of Germany for the café and the Illy team in Italy,” O’Kelly recalls. “We learned a lot in collaborating with both international teams.”

Both the Cityfront Café and the Illy Espressamente Café make use of fun, contemporary designs and colors, but each has its own distinct aesthetic.

“[For the Cityfront Café] our clients wanted to bring an urban-feeling café amenity to the NBC Tower building that features an elevated level of quick service cuisine paired with a more modern, minimal design,” O’Kelly says. Because much of its interior is monochromatic, O’Kelly added splashes of color—like a stylized map of Chicago and lime-green accent walls—to brighten up the décor.

The Illy Espressamente Café’s design utilizes similar minimalism as the Cityfront Café, but its color scheme is reminiscent of its namesake Italian espresso brand. “The highlight at Illy is the special coffee bar itself, with its beautiful curved lines and reflective finish,” O’Kelly says. “Much more than a showcase for the treats inside, the coffee bar has become an iconic element of the Illy brand itself.”

As for all those calls across time zones to Germany and Italy, O’Kelly doesn’t mind. “The end result made the coordination of odd-timed conference calls well worth it,” she says.

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