The first bite of a pastry is always the most memorable—a flaky crust gives way to a soft, gooey center. That moment of ecstasy is captured in the decadent design of Omonia Bakery, a new extension to the Omonia Café in Astoria, Queens, famous for its Greek pastries and the baker behind the cake in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
“The design builds anticipation for enjoying the pastries,” explains New York–based Bluarch Architecture principal Antonio di Oronzo, who imagined a liquefying concoction flowing through the space—a pastry in fieri. The ceiling bubbles like molten chocolate: ¼-inch-square glazed brown mosaics by Bisazza hug the curves of three thermoformed resin shapes. Beneath this organically shifting surface, 4-inch-diameter red cedar spheres are suspended, forming a pillowy layer that is reminiscent of a pastry’s flaky crust. The warm glow from a system of 6-inch-long tubular incandescent bulbs emanates through. These sleek, custom-built fixtures were fashioned from the housings of halogen luminaires.
Form meets function as the luscious brown tile drips down the walls and folds under, forming a counter for patrons on one side and a display shelf opposite. The undersides of these ledges are illuminated by LED strips to contrast the rich tile with the white epoxy coating below, an easy-to-clean surface for the lower portion of the walls and floor. A 32-foot-long, well-lit pastry case beckons patrons with its mouth-watering offerings.
Omonia Bakery’s space is narrow—only 13 feet wide with a total interior area of 1,000 square feet—so the tolerance for materials was especially unforgiving. “This project entailed a certain maniacal attention to every detail,” recalls di Oronzo. That same level of craftsmanship can be witnessed in the open kitchen, enclosed in tempered glass, where the pastry chefs are always busy creating their concoctions. Di Oronzo saw “an opportunity
to reinforce the brand and the level of care that goes into making these pastries, so much that they want to show it to the world.” Bluarch also designed a small outdoor space in back with terraced seating accentuated by LED strip lighting.
In retail design, the bottom line is to attract customers and retain them by reinforcing the brand. “This client is an illuminated client, and though he
is cautious about where the dollars go, he wants us to design in a way that will enhance the presence of his stores,” says di Oronzo. It’s a recipe that works: Bluarch has completed the designs for another Omonia location in Brooklyn and two new storefronts for Omonia’s Manhattan debut. As if we needed more reasons to indulge.