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Dark Horse Coffee Automat
We're excited to announce the launch of the Dark Horse Coffee Automat—Canada's first robotic café. In collaboration with Dark Horse Espresso Bar and RC Coffee, we designed a storefront which tells a playful, fictional history of the Dark Horse brand, finding its origins as a midcentury café in Toronto's Yorkville.
It was a really intriguing brief for us, as we’ve never experienced a fully automated, contactless coffee system before. We started to get a little nostalgic for some of our favourite old coffee shops—places like Cafe Valand in Sweden and Moka Cafe in Iceland. We love these warm and nostalgic places that never close and have a crew of familiar regulars. So, we started thinking about how we could play with this nostalgia while also introducing the robotic technology from RC Coffee.
Our goal was for people to walk by the cafe at night with the lights in the window glowing and stop for a moment to look inside, then realize that this isn’t a real coffee shop but an automated coffee kiosk. We thought that simply having the coffee kiosk by itself as an ATM, it would disappear on a busy downtown street—the diorama allowed us to create an atmosphere of authenticity and capture the spirit and quality of the coffee. We love the Nordic spirit for innovation, and even though this is a cheeky retro aesthetic, it lends itself to the optimism of the technology found at the coffee kiosk.
Oji Masanori's Diamond Pendant Lamp is suspended over a tea trolley designed for us by Studio Junction, with Drawn Chairs by Hvidt & Mølgaard. The wallpaper is one of our favourites, designed by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn.
Atop the tea trolley: vintage coffee cups designed by Stig Lindberg for Gustavsberg, an antique Danish teak bowl, and vase by Nils Thorsson for Royal Copenhagen.
A vintage table lamp by Esben Klint for Holmegaard Glassworks, next to a 1950s Swedish "Cobra" phone.
A first edition of MINKA sits on the lower shelf of the trolley.
The vending window is integrated into the façade of the building. The Automat arrives at pertinent time, offering a unique opportunity for urban place-making while navigating the current realities surrounding dining and café culture.