If the kitchen is your favourite room in the house, then you will be right at home at Kappabashi Dori in Tokyo. Every time I visit, I spend hours eagerly trawling the entire stretch of the street, fascinated by the myriad of kitchenware displayed in the shops Kappabashi is so famous for. From the sharpest Japanese knives, to realistic plastic food-lookalikes, to exquisite ceramic ware; if you need it, I’m sure Kappabashi has it. But for a street that has everything to do with preparing food, there is nary a spot for weary shoppers to rest and grab a drink to recharge. I am in for a pleasant surprise this time.
At the end of Kappabashi Dori that is away from Tawaramachi station, a concept new to the neighbourhood has sprung up.
From the outside, Bridge looks no more unusual than its neighbours where genial Japanese shopkeepers mind their stores and sell their wares. Inside, it is a completely different world. The incongruity of this “lifestyle and space” concept shop with its neighbours is the first thing that strikes me. Bridge is a coffee and ice cream bar set on the working premises of Study Style, a Japanese architectural and design company. The aesthetic appeal of the space makes perfect sense to me now. After a day of ducking in and out of tight Japanese shops, I find the expanse of the space overwhelmingly refreshing. The architect has removed the front half of the second level to create enormous spatial volume above the cafe. Space, glorious space – I am loving it already!
At the front of house, the barista busies herself with pulling shot after shot of espresso; deep at the back, architects and designers sit within the glass-walled office churning their creative juices. The vibe is casual yet respectfully reserved.
The coffee is unpretentious and very delicious. My iced latte, very chocolatey espresso swirling in cold velvety Japanese milk, was splendid.
In the intermediate area between the cafe and the architect’s office lies a small atrium which is an art exhibition space.
Beside the coffee bar, a sturdy steel and wood staircase invites all to the mezzanine level.
At the top of the stairs, a plush surprise welcomes guests to the architect’s playground.
True to the “lifestyle and space” concept embodied in the building, this floor is an unconventional communal area for rest, play and interaction. A comfy couch for a moment’s introspect, open rooms for team and client discussions, and a playroom for young guests or even energetic staff.
Aesthetically intriguing and symbolic of the exchange of ideas and fluidity of thought through the entire space, the open-concept meeting rooms offer the curious a peek within.
And of course, what self-respecting lifestyle office does not have a ping pong table?
This fabulous creative environment where work, play and the intoxicating aroma of freshly ground coffee co-exist in harmony leaves me feeling energised, inspired and extremely green with envy. Do you need designers, Sturdy Style? I learn fast!
Be sure to check Bridge out the next time you are in Kappabashi!
Bridge by Sturdy Style
Matsugaya 3-1-12, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tel: (03) 6231-6781
6-minute walk from Tsukuba Express Asakusa Station, or 10-minute walk from Tawaramachi Station
Written by Jack.D
Photographed by Leni.B and Jack.D