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West Vancouver's Isetta Cafe Bistro preserves old-school construction but incorporates contemporary shapes and colours.
“The construction of the building was really interesting—you would never be able to get away with something like that nowadays,” says Antoine Morris with a laugh. Morris is the principal of Vancouver-based architecture firm DAE, and the “interesting” structure he’s referring to is a massive, pitched-roof solid timber building in West Vancouver. The property has been recognized as a kind of community hub since the early ’60s, when it held a gas station and a grocery store.
“It was in disrepair, and the owner saw it as a jewel that he wanted to bring back,” says Javier Campos, principal designer of Campos Studio. DAE and Campos Studio collaborated to transform the campsite-like building into a modern, buzzy and welcoming space—and that called for coffee.
The structure became home to Isetta, a new café bistro from Thomas Eleizegui (who was behind the now-closed bike café Musette in Vancouver’s West End). DAE and Campos Studio kept the timber ceiling, aiming to preserve as much of that honest, old-school construction as possible.
But at eye-level, traditional meets modern: midcentury-style patinated leather seating and blown glass pendant lights mix with bright, fresh details like the curvilinear orange wall sconces by Rich Brilliant Willing and a beautiful turquoise-tiled bar.
“We spent a lot of time making sure that what was attached to the shell stayed faithful to the original,” says Campos. And, as such, that community hub vibe lives on: on any given weekday morning, Isetta is bustling with suburban commuters grabbing coffee, Lycra-suited cyclists on their way back from climbing up to Cypress Mountain andretirees catching up over sandwiches.
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