Full Circle

Studio 11:11 designs an intimate flagship space for Kirikiriroa’s Grey Roasting Co, celebrating coffee from seed to cup.

Full Circle

Studio 11:11 designs an intimate flagship space for Kirikiriroa’s Grey Roasting Co, celebrating coffee from seed to cup.

Established by Dove Chen in 2020 – as a side hustle from his Grey St Kitchen in Hamilton East – Grey Roasting Co has made a name for itself preparing high-quality, often single-origin beans with great care and attention to detail. When a space came up in Kirikiriroa’s new Made Market, he jumped at the chance to establish the roastery in its own space, asking Studio 11:11 to design the new premises. “We were channelling a gallery-esque interior,” says associate director Nathan Varga. “A backdrop for the artistry of coffee-brewing and its many beautiful objects to be exhibited.”

Here: What did Dove want the space to do?

Nathan Varga: Dove approached us to create a flagship premises with a roastery and tasting room, a place where people could enjoy an intimate coffee experience with the expertise and hospitality of Dove and his team. It needed to be a place where they could be hosts, performers and educators, enabling customers to enjoy a unique cafe experience, immersed in a full-circle process from bean to cup.

H: What was here before and what was your approach to the design?

NV: We were met with a south-facing bunker at the basement level of the Made Market. There was limited natural light and a lot of concrete, but it looked out on the tree-lined banks of the Waikato River. The challenge was to create an interior that was as tranquil and serene as its leafy surroundings. Our starting point was the vertical rhythms of the existing concrete-block columns. This informed a lot of the geometry of our intervention – from plastered columns and the locally sourced Hinuera stone island bench, to the timber and glazed verticals of the cabinetry. Then it was about adding a warm and well-lit material palette, so the interior felt inviting.

H: It’s minimal and calm, yet warm – how did you achieve that?

NV: A gallery aesthetic is inherently minimal, but we wanted it to feel domestic and homely too. We introduced curtains and upholstery, custom furniture in warm timber grains and a selection of locally designed interior objects – all set against a backdrop of warm-white plastered wall textures. A variety of light fittings illuminate and enhance these features. The calmness comes from the combination of minimalist geometry and a warm yet subdued material palette.

H: There’s no espresso machine. Tell us about that.

NV: An important part of the brief was to allow more interaction between barista and customer, to open up conversation and enable more meaningful personal connections. The specialty equipment does away with the typical bulky espresso machine. Instead, the machinery is integrated into the benchtop, enabling more direct engagement with people while creating a sense of novelty and wonder.

H: What are you most proud of with the design?

To be able to showcase a local Waikato stone from the Hinuera quarry was immensely satisfying. To specify a material from Aotearoa, when so often materials from abroad are considered superior, is a huge win. It’s typically used outside – the only interior applications generally being fireplace mantles – but a few physical samples gave us the confidence to push for its use as a sculptural and elegant interior centrepiece. We feel it has really hit the mark. We’re so proud to see that the interior experience is just as we hoped it would be – connection and engagement are thriving in the unique Grey way.


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