Jensen Retail Group designed the interior of Blox Eats – a new cafeteria, restaurant and café all in one. The challenge was to combine the three functions while simultaneously maintaining a flowing style. They succeeded with a subtle elegance.
The clock was ticking. Thomas Jensen had three months, but he knew the project would normally require double the time. The prestigious building Blox in Copenhagen was due to open on 4 May, 2018 – and so should the restaurant Blox Eats too. A grand party was planned. Even her Majesty the Queen of Denmark would attend. The building was going to be a collection of creative solutions, a place for start-ups and a centre for architecture.
Thomas Jensen is Creative Director of Danish design and communications agency Jensen Retail Group. He designs interior for stores and restaurants. Meyers Contract Catering hired his company to create the interior of Blox Eats.
“They wanted a hybrid: A café for relaxing and work – during the day, a cafeteria for the hundreds of people who work in Blox and a restaurant for dining in the evening. It was a great challenge,” says Thomas Jensen.
He is standing in the finished café. A smile on his face. They made it in time. Around him dominates black and dark grey materials. Still, the whole place is full of light due to the floor-to-ceiling windows that encapsulate the room instead of the walls. The surroundings of old Copenhagen step into the place through the massive windows.
The ground floor is a café with a lounge area, a place for light eating and high tables for working on a laptop. Thomas Jensen points at a big steel beam that supports the building in the middle of the room.
“That beam was our inspiration as well as the concrete walls. I like when you can see the construction pieces of the building and we used that as a theme in our design,” he says.
All the furniture, except for the chairs, were custom-made to fit the building. The counter is concrete, the tables have steel frames in the same shade as the support beam and along the back walls are shelves in the same industrial style. The only splash of colour is from the green plants and a dozen oak stools.
“I like to create intimate environments where people can socialize or work depending on their mood. Flexibility is really the key. Everything in here is usable in different situations,” says Thomas Jensen as he goes up the staircase.
A new way of dining
On the first floor is the cafeteria or food hall. There is a big kitchen in the back and three small ones at the front counter. In the evening, the place becomes a restaurant with room for guests and dinner parties. At lunch, you choose one of the small kitchens, order on a tablet and then receive your freshly prepared meal.
Meyers Contract Catering wanted it that way. They own high-end eating venues all around Copenhagen. Development Manager Henri Gregers Holst says they wanted to create the future of work-place eating.
“People do not eat the same way they used to. They do not have a regular seat and they do not eat the same meal every day. Therefore, we took inspiration from food halls and street food from other countries to create a new way of eating,” says Henri Gregers Holst.
The three kitchens each have their own chef and style of food. The chefs prepare the meal fresh right in front you. Today the first kitchen has cold dishes, like salads and sandwiches, while the second is serving a risotto-like dish with turkey and the third one is making Italian food. Every day there is at least five different dishes to choose from. Moreover, each week the menus change so customers never tire of the food.
Throughout the three-month design process, Jensen Retail Group and Meyers Contract Catering worked closely together and held many meetings. Today Creative Director Thomas Jensen tells how it was fun to work on a different kind of project, one where the flow of people was of the utmost importance.
“We took inspiration from airports because we wanted to guide people around the food hall with subtle hints. We made room dividers that made people go the right way and we designed an effective way of standing in line for the kitchens,” says Thomas Jensen.
Jensen Retail Group also designed a graphic identity for Blox Eats with an elegant font and icons. It links the place together so guests experience a wholesomeness from the moment they step inside until they take the final bite of their food and leave. In keeping with that thought, Jensen Retail even stylized the garbage can.