In this digital age we live in, it’s almost impossible to fight the urge to constantly capture everyday life and the world around us. This is particularly true when it comes to social media platforms like Instagram, which has single-handedly driven hotels, restaurants, and cafés everywhere to strive for more aesthetically-pleasing designs, all in hopes that customers will be wowed enough to photograph them, upload them to their stories and profiles, and geotag them so that all of their followers know exactly where to find them.
This craze has sparked the imagination of many designers who are into all things weird and wonderful — things that are celebrated in all their glory on social media. One of the latest creations to come from that world is a wacky café in South Korea whose interior has been designed to look like a cartoon.
Café Yeonnam-dong opened in Seoul last year and has been making waves across the internet ever since. The quirky establishment boasts an entirely monochromatic interior, with black and white markings all over the walls, floors, ceiling, and even on the furniture so as to give everything the flattened, two-dimensional look of a drawing. The overall effect is both disconcerting and playful, allowing visitors to pretend that they have stepped into the pages of a children’s book while they sip their coffee and eat pastries. More specifically, they might feel like they stepped into the animated Korean TV series W.
Visitors are drawn in by the distorted reality of it all: real people eating real food, drinking real drinks, and sitting on real furniture while surrounded by things that have been made to look fake and cartoonish. This effect is achieved by tracing black lines along the contours of the interiors, which themselves are painted white. Flat curtains have been drawn onto the windows, details of the leather furniture have been drawn onto the flat backgrounds against which customers sit, and an exaggerated herringbone pattern and woodgrain finish have been sketched over the surface of the floor.
All of this drawing takes the perspective and depth out of the space, as the shadows typically cast in corners, or along the grooves in a coffee cup, are absent, lending a strange sense of flatness to the space and the elements within it. Picture frames are drawn onto the walls, and windows are drawn into the cupboards. It’s a very light-hearted environment, and one that has been shared again and again on platforms like Instagram.
There are a couple splashes of color in some of the pretty table flowers and the garnishes on the sides of the cakes, but apart from that, it’s the customers that really fill this black and white wonderland with vibrancy.