Projects

Caffè Napoli - Milano

A Neapolitan atmosphere in Milan

Caffè Napoli in Milan recreates the homely, picturesque atmosphere of Neapolitan houses, its details revealing powerful, authentic cultural inspirations
Author
Claudia Capperucci
Architect
GruppoC14 Milano
Surfaces
DE MAIO FRANCESCO
Year of completion
2018

When one thinks of coffee, one can’t help but think of the city of Naples with its noisy, colourful streets and the custom of the “caffè sospeso” or the “pending coffee”, an act of kindness that involves paying for two cups, one for oneself and the other for a less well-off customer who might come along later. This was the spirit of Caffè Napoli, a coffeehouse in Milan owned by the Exytus group which recreates a corner of Naples in the bustling heart of the northern Italian city. “Human relationships and interactions were the driving force behind this project, resulting in an open, welcoming space,” explained architect Alexander Bellman and Gruppo C14, responsible for the concept and interior design. The café’s authentic Neapolitan spirit is projected onto the street through windows that open completely to reveal the fascinating, colourful spaces that lie within: the hand-painted majolica floor tiles from Ceramica Francesco De Maio (Ieranto Rosso/Avana collection), the blue-green walls that evoke distant marine worlds and the vintage atmospheres. Ceramica Francesco De Maio is one of the many historic tile producers located in the ceramic-producing town of Vietri in the Campania region (one of around 40 “ceramic municipalities” located throughout Italy) and even today its collections continue to be produced by local craftsmen specialised in the art of majolica. The ceramic body is made from handcrafted terracotta consisting of a blend of locally-sourced light-coloured clays, which are filtered and mixed with water. The body is poured into the frames and hand moulded and finished, after which the form is dried and then fired. The tiles can be laid directly – as was customary on the floors of noble buildings – or used as a base for glazing and hand decoration. In Caffè Napoli, traditional Neapolitan pastries are laid out on antique wood sideboards, which together with the table clad with custom-designed white tiles create a warm, homely atmosphere, half kitchen and half dining room – like being in a friend’s home. In Naples, drinking coffee is a ritual. It should not be done in haste but enjoyed at leisure, and perhaps taking the opportunity to socialise and chat for a few moments with people one has never seen before. With this in mind, the interior design project drew inspiration from symbols and perceptions that are common to different cultures. The street-front counter, where passers-by can order coffee from outside, is an integral part of city life. The minimalist furnishing elements, likewise inspired by domestic life, are designed to nurture socialisation on different levels and include high tables with a square, linear design surrounded by dark metal stools and reading corners with low red fabric armchairs that reflect the floor colours and the wooden coffee tables where customers can sit and read a newspaper at their leisure. The black and white photographs are ideal for this discreet but poetic interior design. The idea for this concept came about during the months of Expo Milano in 2015. According to the café’s website, it is “A space without visual or olfactory distractions, which focuses the customer’s sensory experience on the famous tazzulella (“little cup” in Neapolitan); it reproduces the typical southern Italian concept of family life, where coffee is served at any time of day, anywhere and above all in good company”. Since then, the Caffè Napoli chain has spread rapidly throughout Milan with 14 coffeehouses opened in strategic areas around the Lombardy capital, from the first Caffè Napoli in Largo La Foppa to the most recent location in Porta Vittoria.

Tiles
Francesco De Maio, Antichi Decori
Type
double firing
Sizes
20x20
Colours
Rosso/Avana
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): conforme
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): conforme
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): conforme
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): conforme
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): conforme
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
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