THOR Espresso, Toronto

Phaedrus Studio, Toronto

Photography by Ryan Fung

A jagged, angular landscape evokes the surreal expressionism of the first horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), while lending a scale-inflating monumentality to diminutive THOR Espresso. Shiny spiky stainless-steel portals delineate the entry to the 750-sq.-ft. coffee shop located inside an industrial brick-and-beam loft building in downtown Toronto. The primary surfaces, clad in matte black acrylic, act as backdrop for the “show”: faceted sculptural forms that fold along datum lines derived from counter, door and beam heights. This progresses through brushed stainless steel; polished stainless steel; and black-tinted, mirrored stainless steel. The subtly varying skins react to changing lighting conditions and visitors’ movements in ways that play with perceptions of light and dark, reflective and matte, and solid and void. The barista station is equipped with under-counter equipment that removes the clutter that often separates barista and customer, and here would detract from the project’s visual impact. The designers specified Faz side chairs by Spanish designer Ramon Esteve for Vondom to continue the fractal-geometry lesson.