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Design Details: The Circle of Life, Or Whatever, in Busan

Or Whatever Busan Korea 8

The Or Whatever coffee shop and brunch spot in Busan, South Korea. Photos used with permission.

Welcome to Design Details, an ongoing editorial feature in Daily Coffee News focused on individual examples of coffee shop architecture, interior design, packaging design or branding. If you are a coffee shop owner, designer or architect and would like to submit your project for consideration, reach our editors here.

Design Details: Or Whatever

  • Project: Or Whatever (Instagram)
  • Location: Busan, South Korea (Google Maps link)
  • Size: 50 square meters (538 square feet)
  • Opened: 2022
  • Designer: Design by 83 (website, Instagram)
  • Photographer: Donggyu Kim

Following the free-spirited ethos of the brand, the design of the Or Whatever cafe and brunch spot in Busan, South Korea, emphasizes circularity and free flow.

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Busan-based firm Design by 83 led the shop’s design based on feedback from the shop owner who said that the “or whatever” concept is intended to break free from conventions.

“When we heard these ideas from the client, we wanted to break free from the stereotypes of the existing cafe space with our own interpretation,” the firm said in a statement shared with DCN. “For example, [we] thought it would be nice to have a free, light, and distinct personality rather than the usual cafe layout centered on vertical, horizontal, and right-angle bars.”

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Within a square footprint, the shop is centered around a large cylinder that helps to define the flow among customers and employees. Pillars supporting the cylindrical mass are finished with birch plywood, while a refurbished wall, sofa seating, tables and chairs were all designed to fit seamlessly in the guest space.

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Lighting that reflects off of aluminum plates creates something of a halo effect inside the shop, drawing attention to the shop through large glass windows facing the street.

“We wanted the formative cylindrical mass to stand out visually when looking from the outside,” the firm said. “The whole glass exterior was designed to unify the relationship between the inside and the outside space.”

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