Regardless of your personal faith (or lack thereof), just about everyone can appreciate the beauty of a well-designed church, mosque, or temple. Visitors flock to these structures all around the world just to marvel at their typically ornate architecture, from the pews to the flying buttresses, the stunning mosaic patterns on the floors to the stained glass windows. But it’s often the ceilings that hold the greatest capacity to awe, especially when they’re painted by the hands of a skilled artist.
When Los Angeles-based Wick Architecture & Design was approached to creatively outfit a small L-shaped café on the bottom floor of an office building in Newport Beach, California, principle architect David Wick knew he’d need to find a creative way to make the relatively unremarkable space pop for visitors. What he came up with may not rival the Sistine Chapel, but it’s a beautiful way to bring some freshness and modernity to the classic ceiling fresco.
Teaming up with landscape design firm LAND, which handled the exterior portions facing a shared courtyard, Wick produced a pretty incredible space. The bottom half of the fittingly named Stereoscope Café looks like a fairly ordinary coffee shop, but when you look up, you get quite a treat. Not only is the ceiling covered in Renaissance imagery, but it’s in 3D, giving it a fun look even if you aren’t wearing special glasses (but honestly, why not bring some if you plan on visiting?).
Wick explains that “Granite Properties approached us to create a ‘statement’ coffee shop for Stereoscope Coffee in Newport Beach, CA. The 672-square-foot L-shaped space is located on the ground floor of their six-story office building. The tall and narrow space allowed for a unique design opportunity. Referencing Italian masterpieces like Correggio’s Assumption of the Virgin in Parma or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome, Nashville based artist / photographer Christy Lee Rogers, purveyor of modern baroque underwater photography, was selected to cover the ceiling and walls.”
“Her piece, The Reunion of Cathryn Carrie and Jean was translated by Wick A+D into a 3D art piece placed on the ceiling and gradating to the white as it flows down the walls. The art is viewed by donning retro 3D glasses that line the white oak shelves. The baroque, minimalist aesthetic is completed with white oak bench seating, white matte tile, and Blue Orca marble.”
The result is cool enough to make it worth a stop in Newport Beach, even if you’re not a coffee drinker. The way the imagery fades down the walls of the café to join the understated, gallery-like feel of the rest of the space gives it a little something extra.
Rogers’ underwater works are truly spectacular, and worth a look for their own sake. The Hawaii-born artist creates her effects using refraction of light “through a fragile process of experimentation,” building “elaborate scenes of coalesced colors and entangled bodies that exalt the human character as one of vigor and warmth, while also capturing the beauty and vulnerability of the tragic experience that is the human condition.” You can check out her behind-the-scenes process of creation and buy her pieces in the form of oversized art scarves at her website.