Niko Neko Matcha is a successful matcha boutique that has always been focused on retaining their product quality, the matcha- making process, and their brand identity intact.
We were tasked with helping them refresh and expand their flagship café and product gallery space, Niko Neko 1.0 in Kuala Lumpur with the intention of retaining the minimal approach of the brand within the existing space.
The original café-gallery was located on the front of the first floor of a row of typical terrace shoplots, and intended to expand towards the rear, which was previously occupied by a plant shop. The layout of the new space for the café had to be improved so as to accommodate a new bar, prep room and a concealed entranceto the washrooms.
The client also wanted to maintain some separation between the previous space, which would be maintainedonly as a product gallery, and the new matcha café, which allowed more dine-in seats and the associated experience. Seating and tables were designed by taking cue from the cubic forms previously used, whilst finishes were kept to a bare minimum to allow focus on the purity of these forms. Details of the broken concrete tips of the table posts, arrived at after some experiments on site, allowed the use of the in-situ concrete elements within the space to be expressed in their bare forms.
Niko Neko 1.0 hosted a paper installation that framed the only window within the space, framing the top of palm trees along the front street. The client wished to carry another paperinstallation into the new café space as a means to link the two spaces.After exploring a few iterations with potential paper installations and discussing the options with paper installation artist Sarah Rahman, it was decided that the focal point would be a central concrete ‘seat’ with one main paper installation taking center stage within the monochromatic dining space.
The previous café space was simply reconfigured into an ethereal product gallery that enjoyed the only window to the outside. From this, an internal ‘window’ was created between the product gallery and the new cafespace that formed a viewing axis from thenew bar where Niko Neko’s matcha baristas perform their mixes right through to the window to the external view of the palms.
The site is currently a 10-minute walk from a town’s 2-storey market building built by the local council, and is occupied by a fish market covered by a lightweight steel roof. The client wishes to develop a building to house a fresh market complete with refrigeration units and cold rooms, to provide a pleasant street-level shopping experience of buying fresh local produce.