The name of Paris hospitality space Back in Black refers not to its interiors but its espresso-coloured – and flavoured – offerings: it’s a speciality coffee shop with an in-house roastery. Following the first address of KB Coffee Roasters in South Pigalle, the Bastille café was designed by Minnaërt Studio with a decidedly minimalistic approach. Adopting this style allowed the design team to put full emphasis on the artisanship behind the beverages, explains French-Australian architect and academic Frank Minnaërt.

Spacious, bright and left largely undecorated, the interiors prioritize the product, the teamwork behind the coffee and the total transparency that goes into both. ‘In the context of interior architecture – especially combined with a heavily competitive industry like hospitality – the quest for a unique identity and originality of design can often be misinterpreted as the need for an overdose of decoration,’ says Minnaërt. ‘Contrary to this quest, the impulse to over-design and decorate actually works to obscure the fine anthropological layer of a project. So, in contrast, the leading idea for this project was not to hide away the processes involved in creating the venue or the products on offer.’

The 160-sq-m ground-floor layout includes an open-fronted kitchen, a coffee bar with customer seating, roasting space and work areas divided by translucent partitions which ‘blur the venue’s boundaries’. Overhead is a fireproof, glass-panel ceiling that brings in abundant natural light; below is concrete flooring, finished with white epoxy paint. LED-strip lighting helped the designers achieve the 'raw' ambiance they were going for. Serving as the cornerstone of the space is the 8-m-long bar, the low height of which creates proximity between the barista and the patrons. The structure, made of steel tubing and clad with black and white perforated steel sheets, is finished with a white surface counter. All furniture in the main space is custom-built, constructed of varnished-pine plywood. 

People can peek in on the culinary and coffee-roasting action thanks to accessible, generous viewpoints into both spaces, each framed by steel detailing.