To celebrate a decade of serving hand-crafted coffee to Victorians, Discovery Coffee (or ‘Disco’ as the locals call it) recently opened their fourth location at Blanchard St. and Broughton St. But beyond every hand-selected green bean and masterfully crafted coffee are carefully curated interiors to represent the brand behind the familiar yellow coffee bean globe. From rustic reclaimed woods, Edison bulbs and fresh white subway tile, the atmosphere at Disco is always elevated by the crackling rich tones of vinyl spinning in the background. So when the owners were designing the new location, they turned to master of his craft, Kirk Van Ludwig of Autonomous Furniture to come up with a concept for a range of tables and a focal point coffee bar.
“We’ve worked with Discovery Coffee before so we were excited when they approached us about creating a concept that would be location specific. Our goal was to design something fresh and unique for this space but still reflect their well-established brand,” says Ludwig. Installing one of the few Modbars (a revolutionary coffee system that houses major hardware under the counter) in the country, the owners wanted to build a modern space around the idea of less is more.
Ludwig adds that “you are investing in your brand when you invest in detailed custom craftsmanship. The owners could have filled the space with a bunch of standard restaurant tables but it wouldn’t have fit with the quality of their brand and the product they offer.” One of the owners, Beth Lisson was the driving force behind the interior design and, inspired by their travels, came to Ludwig with a pairing of warm torched woods with the simplicity of subway tile for a modern concept with a throwback touch. Think classic NYC or Chicago coffee bar.
“Conventional wisdom would say in order to make a curved bar, the grain should run the length of the counter, but we wanted to do something completely different. Based on the u-shape, we came up with a sunburst pattern so the Douglas fir grain would face the customer,” states Ludwig. The goal was to come up with a design that was modern and distinct while maintaining Discovery Coffee’s brand identity. “That’s where the surface torching came in to emphasize the wood grain for a rough tactile surface as a nod to the reclaimed wood in their other locations.”
Reclaimed Douglas fir, repurposed from the destruction of Belmont High School, tops all the tables. The thoughtfully designed squared table bases use tubular steel and keep lines rectilinear in this space. Table stability was an important design request as everyone knows that table wobble is not conducive to a positive coffee experience.
Natural light floods the gallery white walls and white honeycomb tile floors and allow the gorgeous torched wood tables to take centre stage. “For an element of interest, we came up with the idea for the embedded ‘coins’ in the wood tables.” Drawing inspiration from their authenticity statement ‘stamps’ they emboss in their furniture, Ludwig thoughtfully placed Discovery Coffee logo coins and the recognizable Toronto Blue Jays insignia as a nod to the hardcore Blue Jays fans on staff.
Autonomous Furniture’s latest design, the Pod 11 table, is ahead of its time as a sculptural piece with utilitarian intentions. Shown here at Discovery as a prototype, Pod 11 was born out of a conversation between Ludwig and Jake James, a world-renowned blacksmith. With the aim of creating a piece that was more than just a table, Ludwig’s vision involved designing a faceted aesthetic as a functional art piece that would stimulate conversation.
Pod 11 is a hot-rolled steel structure with a cantilevered western red cedar top. Perfect for a public space, the versatile Pod 11 is weather-proof and boasts a convenient power source. An adaptable design that can be made taller as a bar table or lowered for a coffee table, the intention is to see the Pod 11 in more open public spaces like airports, as well as cafes and office buildings. And in true forward-thinking fashion, Ludwig is looking at making it solar power in the future.