New York City
For the pint-size Ini Ani Coffee Shop in Lower Manhattan, Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis reinvents the java-sipping experience
Fast, cheap, and in control. That’s the way Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis (LTL) tackled the small but challenging job of designing and constructing a hip café in New York City’s rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side. With less than three months from the start of design to the pouring of the first cappuccino and just $40,000 for construction, the 13-person firm managed to turn an old fortune-teller’s parlor into an inviting place packed with spatial and material invention.
Headed by the twins David and Paul Lewis and Marc Tsurumaki, LTL designed and built almost everything in the 350-square-foot coffee shop—from the Cor-Ten-steel frame around the large (6-by-8-foot) storefront window to the vertical handle on the entry door and the light fixtures that combine a halogen spot with a flickering candle. Luckily, LTL’s studio is right around the corner from the project, allowing the firm to fabricate pieces in their shop and walk them over themselves.
When the clients asked for a subdued lounge in addition to space for take-out orders, LTL created a box within a box, using stacks of 2-inch-wide strips of corrugated cardboard to define the sit-down area. The architects set these strips in a steel cage, hot-gluing them together for a dropped ceiling but relying on only gravity and a tight fit to keep them in place on the walls.
Along the path to the service counter, LTL created a wall with 479 plaster impressions of coffee-cup lids in various sizes and designs. The cool white surface, punctured by neat rows of circles, provides a welcome contrast to the rougher texture of the corrugated walls, and comments amusingly on our unthinking reliance on take-out throwaways. Customers at IniAni often stop at the plaster wall and marvel at the array (more than 50) of typically unnoticed lid variations.
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Plus see RECORD's past web coverage on this firm:
• Design Vanguard 2000 [ Project portfolio, December 2000]
• The Essex Street Studio [ archrecord2, January 2004]