Our good friends at The Spice Trails hotel in Arugam Bay on the East Coast of Sri Lanka approached us to help them design and realise a cafe and a bar to be built into some shipping containers on their land. While the brief was fairly loose, there were a few elements they were very keen on pursuing, such as using reclaimed materials, and also creating some design cues that would visually tie the two spaces together, despite them being separated by physical space and also different brand identities.
It just so happens that on the way to our favourite (secret) surf spot we pass a bunch of lumbar yards, so after spending the morning enjoying some clean tropical waves we stopped by a few that looked like they had some well seasoned, old wood that we could use. After a fair amount of haggling we ended up with some thick planks of “kempus” and also some old boards that had evidently been used for a hoarding of some kind judging by the amount of old paint and stickers pasted all over them. Perfect! We also managed to get our hands on a bunch of old cable drums that had been used by the electricity company Leco.
We used Solidworks to plan the layout of the interiors alongside some simple tricks, like drawing out the floor plan at 1:1 scale on the floor with masking tape so that our client could stand in it and get a feel for the space available.
Before too long it was time to take the team East and begin the actual fit-out. As is often the way with this kind of project we were faced with a seemingly ever changing landscape, especially when working with the reclaimed wood which was full of nails, scars and other issues that all had to be dealt with before it could be used. Not to mention the over 35 degrees heat inside the all metal containers!
Slowly but surely though the spaces began to take shape and we were able to realise the designs as we had originally intended, well, for the most part at least. Some of our favourite items are the twenty foot long bar counter all along the face of the bar, the matching serving counter in the cafe and the lovely tables and stools made from the old cable drums.
So if you find yourself in Arugam bay this season be sure to drop in to Bites Cafe at Sprice Trails for a coffee, and linger for the afternoon to catch a cold beer at the bar.