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The light and the dark

Breaking away from the bland cafeteria-style look of department store eateries, the interior of the restaurant/cafe at de Bijenkorf Amsterdam designed by Concrete, feels a bit like walking into a giant pantry.

By Jeanne Tan / 25-09-2008

Food glorious food.

Amsterdam's iconic de Bijenkorf department store at the Dam has a new floor dedicated not to shoes, clothes or cosmetics but to food. The department store's recently renovated restaurant, designed by Concrete Architectural Associates (of Supperclub fame), is intended as its 'Kitchen' and an ode to the ingredients which form the basis of the food and the interior.

The space comprises the actual kitchen - divided into hot and cold sections - which is the heart of the restaurant with diverse seating zones distributed throughout. Taking a cue from its site, the mood of the interior is a contrast between light and dark depending on the orientation of the floorplan: light facing the open square of the Beurs van Berlage or darker and more intimate towards the Dam. A base palette of mostly natural materials is utilised in the fitout, with a light or dark finish according to the corresponding space.

The main feature of the interior is the custom designed open shelving. It is used to exhibit ingredients both fresh and bottled, crockery and cooking utensils, forming space dividers in the open seating areas while behind the serving area of the warm kitchen, a 30m long shelf allows all sorts of ingredients to be further displayed. Various seating zones allow diners to choose the space according to their needs: a long communal table, intimate family tables or a long bench to read the papers and have a coffee. As part of the 'light' seating area, a terrace accommodates the bar.

Photography: Ewout Huibers

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