seoul: café sapoon sapoon opening

© betwin space design / photography: yong-joon choi

as the capital city of one of asia's most affluent nations, seoul has an already impressive lifestyle insfrastructure, but it continues to expand and diversify to cater to its savvy inhabitants' fast-changing preferences. one of the south korean company's which has closely followed the growth curve is kt&g, the country's largest tobacco company, and interestingly, it's also affiliated to manufacturers of traditional ginseng, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. it's the ginseng manufacturer, best known across the planet through its kweon-jang-chan brand, that has branched out to the hospitality segment by way of a design-led café that's specifially geared towards a young demographic.

called café sapoon sapoon – a play on the word saponin which also is an important ginseng ingredient – it's not accidental that the establishment has found a home on the ground floor of kt&g tower, a soaring office building in a leafy district of seoul. local interior practice betwin space design was enlisted to create a setting for the café that would fully reflect the brand's values, but also designed the building's loby area. café sapoon sapoon occupies a voluminous 221 sqm. [2,379 sq.ft.] space, and boasts a design that revolves around the focus on the elements of nature and lab to evoke the aforementioned design objective.

a giant rectangular canopy has been inserted into the space, replete with an intricate built-in light installation that's also trimmed with fluttering noren, as a nod to a traditional wooden structure that provides shade and coolness in a ginseng field. directly below, two large concrete communal tables are situated, decorated with potted plants that further heighten the sense of rural surrounds. smaller seating arrangements surround the setting, and the use of a variety of carefully selected design chairs. a large part of the furnishings are wood-based, adding an eclectic yet warm touch. the slightly sloping terrace, semi-shielded from bustling yeongdong-daero by lush greenery, is a seamless extension of the aesthetic inside.

spacious and offering similarly inviting seating arrangements, it easily lures customers to sit outside when weather permits. sitting at the far end is a counter and service station, decorated by filigrain dark timber, and here's where the lab element of the design concept kicks in. subtly incorporated in elaborate steel shelving is an installation that fills bottles with cold brew ginseng coffee – mind you, ginseng is the main ingredient of café sapoon sapoon's many capuccino offerings. other than coffee options, the menu also features fresh juices, detox drinks, a wide selection of herbal teas, cakes and ice creams. location: kt&g tower, 416 yeongdong-daero, ground floor [daechi].

© betwin space design / photography: yong-joon choi