GRAM CAFÉ & PANCAKES, BGC
Almost three years ago, Millennials seem to be paving a path towards a new era of interconnectedness, of accessible travel, of a world that seems unrestricted and free. In a span of a couple of months, a 180 occurred and despite the optimism held by so many, life seems to have stopped.
The world that seemed so accessible was now limited to the bounds of the four walls we lived in. Commercial establishments were forced to close, and even upon reopening, trust had to be re-established. Most, if not all, preferred to dine where crowds are absent, some chose a ‘safer’ path by enjoying their favourite meals through delivery or take-aways. Businesses, first and foremost, need to prioritise the health and safety of their guests and staff, and at the same time need pick up their pace.
This is where interior design shows its genuine function to the society at large – demonstrating that designing spaces are not only for the eyes to feast, but in its truest form, interior design is meant to enhance the way of life of its users through a careful balance between science and art, and between function and aesthetics.
A carefully curated interior, defining features from ADS’ first and highly successful Mega Mall flagship is either carried over or thoughtfully evolved to give birth to its newest addition. The ADS team ensured the interior design would perfectly complement Gram’s portfolio in Metro Manila, and to Making Fine Beverages Corporation’s fast-growing chain of restaurants.
Like its flagship store’s interiors, the Serendra space offers a refreshing, contemporary and approachable design aesthetic that is ready to tackle and lead the F&B scene in a post-pandemic world.
With a warm palette, bourgeoning artificial plants are interspersed from the eye level to the ceiling above allowing for a seamless indoor-outdoor vibe. During cooler season doors could be left open, allowing a steady flow of fresh air ventilation throughout the space.
The plants assist in visually connecting the indoor and outdoor vibes and providing a coherent and unobstructed flow.
Additionally, with the increasing demand to be seated outdoors, Gram Serendra also offers a limited 10pax al-fresco dining area that hints its Japanese origin with a minimalist Zen aesthetic.
Unpretentious dining sets featuring bentwood furniture chairs paired with very modern Calacatta-marble bistro tables populate the outdoor space that evokes a sense of calm and tranquillity – perfect for a weekend brunch, or any time of day.
With a custom-made tie-on cushion to the seats, comfortability is not compromised, and guests can dine for hours on end with Gram’s many diverse food and beverage offerings.
For those that dare to dine indoors, ADS designed the space so they equally feel just as safe as when dining outdoors. With around one-hundred square meters, ADS team created a seating layout that would allow flexibility under the present-day restrictions when ‘social distancing’ could be enforced at any given time.
Designed to be a 64pax dining space, the space can easily transform for a 50pax dining capacity to ensure guests ultimately feel comfortably apart while enjoying the luxury of getting to dine out and resume ‘normalcy.’
Along the right side of the space is a row of banquette seating that is framed with slatted, domed arches that is not only a design statement, but a privacy partition. Not without its challenges, this feature is not only a construction feat, but has become a trademark of Gram’s Serendra Branch.
The weekends are busy with reservations where most guests are requesting to be seated in the now-infamous, influencer-favourite area of the café. With comfortable banquette seats and a cosy lighting ambiance, the ‘birdcage’ zone is not only an influencer-favourite but is popular with the kids too.
Apart from a very flexible interior space, Gram also makes it a point to include one of its other demographics and not leave them feeling left out. Receiving take-away orders in bulk, the operational flow to serve these orders must be seamless.
A bespoke Gram logo-shaped planting crowns the “Instagram wall” where guests can opt to snap with the seasonal displays, the iconic giant pancake stuffed toy, or its simple brick-cladded backdrop with Parisian-café-inspired seating arrangement. But looks can be deceiving.
Despite appearing to be a decorative millwork backdrop piece, this built-in piece serves a dual purpose- not only does it frame the “Instagram wall”, the cabinetries also serve to conceal TV panels, a decorative bookshelf, and of course few well-ventilated cabinets for those take-away bags. Being located near the entrance ensures that guests do not need to walk several meters in but, rather a quick grab-and-go.
Interior Materials and Finishes
Faux-timber tiles are used in lieu of timber flooring for a more robust surface while also being easy to clean yet maintain a much-needed warmth to the space. For better acoustics and undemanding maintenance, the walls are dressed in a simple linen-esque Type III wallcovering that allows for easy-cleaning and complement an otherwise hard-surfaced interior that may prove to be acoustically ineffective.
The back area of the café features Gram’s signature show kitchen. With arched awning windows, the kitchen hatch is designed with yet again another multi-function design feature. The service counter is supported by rows and columns of open shelving, drawers and cabinets that serve as storage-cum-wait station.
The open kitchen allows diners to have a glimpse of how their food is being prepared, by well-trained chefs that adhere to strict food & hygiene decorum.
About Amalgamation Design Studio
A Hong Kong-based Interior Design firm, ADS is focused on retail F&B and hotel projects and are comprised of members across the Asia-Pacific. Coincidentally, around their fourth anniversary, they are set to grace Makati with a new design concept for Gram that showcases a spin-off that is edgier and trendier but just as contemporary, warm, and approachable.
Jacqueline Tan Co