“The feeling of the original structure of the interior space was literally hard and forbidding before the construction,” studio founder Ashizawa told Dezeen.
“I decided to have a fun characteristic where the homely atmosphere in the interior space would coexist with the distinct stony feeling of the cave entrance, by applying a warmer tone throughout the floor, counter top, sofa, and furniture, yet still utilizing the original concrete structure including pillars and beams in the space.”
A type of brick commonly found in historic buildings in Maebashi was used for the floors, with the bar counter plastered to complement its colouring.
Furniture for the cafe was specially designed in collaboration with Karimoku Furniture, which also partnered with Keiji Ashizawa Design on a Blue Bottle Coffee shop in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.
The lighting fixtures in the cafe, as well as detailing on the furniture, are made from copper.
“Responding to the textures of the bricks and the counters, we chose copper with a slight shimmer for the lighting fixtures and furniture, paper cords for the entrance handles, and upholstery for the sofas which are a collection of materials that are tactile and felt by touch,” the studio said.
Like in other Blue Bottle Coffee shops, the bar counter is situated so it can be seen from outside.
“Although it is a relatively small space, we tried to create a park-like environment where one can casually sit by providing sofa benches as the main type of seating,” Ashizawa added.
“In particular, we ensured that the large sofa located in the middle would be comfortable for customers of all ages, from small children, parents to elderly, so that the space would feel welcoming to everyone.”
A new art piece by local artist Yoshio Shirakawa, a study on the history of Maebashi titled ‘Akagiyama Dragon Body’, was chosen for the wall.
The Shiroiya’s own history dates back over 300 years, with the existing 1970s hotel closing in 2008.
It was reopened in December 2020 following a drastic revamp designed by architect Sou Fujimoto, which saw the old building’s internal floors removed and the construction of the Green Tower – a grassy hill containing cabins – where the coffee shop is located.
Blue Bottle Coffee was founded as a small roastery in Oakland, California by James Freeman in 2002, and has since grown into a chain of cafes across the USA and Asia, with several in Japan.
Photography is by Ben Richards.