© Quiet Poetry

As in most Chinese mega cities, the urban fabric is constantly shifting, and Shanghai obviously is no exception. In fact, it’s widely considered as progressive on many levels nationwide as things evolve here at a slightly faster pace, and this is also reflected in retail and hospitality. The sprawling metropolis has its fair share of large glitzy malls, but luckily also plenty of scenic downtown streets lined with cool boutiques, restaurants and watering holes. In the latter category falls Allongé Café, a newly opened hangout infused with, as its name already implies, a strong European flair. It’s situated in a traditional Shanghai neighbourhood and occupies a 33 sqm. (355 sq.ft.) ground floor unit of a 20th century mixed-use building, right next to a tailor’s workshop. Needless to say, the arrival of the café indicates gentrification of some sort, but its modest size and intimate atmosphere add to the neighbourhood’s original vibe in a modern way.

Designed by Hangzhou-based design practice Quiet Poetry, the transformation of the space is marked from afar by a pristine white façade with an arched metal sign which also serves as a rain shelter. Interestingly, the arched shape is also replicated by the indoor ceiling. As the original Parisian café was the extended living room of sorts for intellectuals, the designers aimed to create an elevated setting, using carefully curated furniture pieces which aren’t just pleasing to look at, but also tell a story. Given the compact area, divided into a front section and back room, the objective was to create a space as open as possible. The aforementioned retractable windows pitch in big time, but also a clever configuration of the front section has helped to achieve this goal. A service station has been placed right in the middle, serving as a counter for seated patrons, storage and cashier desk at the same time.

Lining the back and side walls is an L-shaped with cabinets and shelving. As said, the furnishings at Allongé Café have been handpicked and aim to make a difference. Artek stools are paired with the Domus Chair by Ilmari Tapiovaara, and a chair by Nanna Ditzel. Aalto’s A331 Beehive pendant lamp is paired with light fixtures by Vipp. In the adjacent private room, a backdrop of walls and a ceiling dipped in a bright orange hue form the backdrop for a bench and attached drawer by Charlotte Perriand and an aluminium transport box serves as a side table. Allongé Café is named after the French name for caffè lungo, and as it already implies, it’s primarily a coffee parlour serving carefully sourced quality blends from across the planet, paired with a concise range of bites. Location: Allongé Café, 106 Yanqing Lu (Changshu Lu).

© Quiet Poetry