Inside La Marzocco Cafe and Showroom in Seattle
La Marzocco, a manufacturer of the finest in class specialty coffee equipment, opened its first and only showroom with a cafe in Seattle. The retail space is inspired by La Marzocco’s Florentine factory and the La Marzocco espresso machines themselves – a merger of Italian heritage, meticulous craftsmanship, and thoughtful attention to detail and material. The project was completed by by SkB Architects, a Seattle-based design firm.
“The La Marzocco experience begins at the street with the company logo and a display of espresso machines, as well as visible cafe seating. The La Marzocco space speaks to this connection and sense of discovery in similar ways – through its physically open and inviting arrangement that connects to the street and greater neighborhood, through its rich yet spare aesthetic, and through the experiences it provides through coffee education, coffee industry partnerships, and the shared experience of coffee. The design process began with a trip to the La Marzocco factory in Florence, Italy, where our design team drew inspiration from the historic factory, the collection of vintage espresso machines, and the drawings of Italian coffee bars that La Marzocco designed and produced from the 1960s-1980s. The 1,100-square-foot cafe and showroom, located within the lounge space of KEXP (we also designed the home for KEXP), is subtly demarcated through an inset steel floor which is etched with historic brand images of La Marzocco’s machines, and a set of steel-framed, multi-toned glass windows hanging above the space. The windows are a direct reference to the beautifully-aged windows found at the old factory in Florence. In addition to helping to define the space and create a sense of intimacy, the windows mask the track for the security curtain used to enclose the space during off-hours. The design for the center piece -the 200-square-foot espresso bar – arose after sitting down with Piero Bambi, son and nephew of La Marzocco’s founding brothers, to discuss the importance of thoughtful bar design; the result combines the elegance of Italian café heritage with the craftsmanship and care that given each La Marzocco espresso machine. The U-shaped open layout of the bar encourages 360 degrees of interaction between barista and the customer and invites people into the process of discovering, making and enjoying great coffee. La Marzocco espresso machine model FB80, provides the design cue for the pewter bar top nosing; Florentine lilies adorn the bar face. The bar also includes a foot rail, an homage to those found in Italian cafés where the tradition of enjoying one’s daily coffee standing up persists today. VK Design fabricated the pewter bar top. Solid oak cabinetry employed throughout the space was hand-crafted in Seattle by Mallet, Inc., who also served as general contractor. Bar doors and knock box drawers are by Italian bar manufacturer, Ronda. Behind the bar is the Espresso Lab, a space dedicated to showcasing La Marzocco Home, the company’s residential line of espresso machines and accessories. The wall behind features a floor-to-ceiling mural of the city of Florence. The Espresso Lab provides visitors with the opportunity to speak directly with baristas, gain hands-on experience with La Marzocco’s espresso machines and accessories, participate in home barista classes, as well as speak with La Marzocco staff about selecting the right machine for their home. The La Marzocco Home Espresso Lab represents the first public space dedicated to teaching the art of espresso to consumers. We are driven by the human experience, an emphasis on place making and a design process based on investigation and discovery. We were very excited to learn that La Marzocco shared a similar set of beliefs, and so our journey together began. We worked with the team at La Marzocco to create and design a unique retail environment that provides a place for customers to gather and connect through coffee. But also to create an immersive experience that provides an education for customers about La Marzocco’s rich history, artisan craft, high quality and the significance of their machines within the coffee industry,” explained Kyle Gaffney, Founding Partner, SkB Architects
- Location: Seattle, Washington
- Size: 1,100 square feet
- Design: SkB Architects
- Photos: Jeremy Bittermann