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Royal/T is a fun combination between art gallery, café and retail shop which built on a 10,000 sf warehouse in Culver City, California. wHY Architecture planned the space by playing upon traditional rules of gallery, retail and restaurant design. Instead applying the 'white box' space, existing walls remained unpainted, and rolling ribbons of 10 foot high acrylic walls contain the art and retail offerings in architectural showcases.
Diners become voyeurs and participants in the architectural fusion of pop-culture and high-end design. Like a private club, the Washington Boulevard entrance is covered in faux boxwood, with only the Royal/T crown logo in hot pink neon. Inspired by the Maid Cafés in Tokyo's Akihabara district, the highly conceptualized space of Royal/T reflects the interior realm of fantasy that strongly influences the artists included in owner Sue Hancock's private collection.
Recontextualizing the underground 'okaku' (geek) culture of Japan that celebrated 'cosplay' (costume play), the café servers dress in maid uniforms with a Lolita-esque touch. The look-but-don't-touch theme continues with the art and retail offerings contained within the acrylic vitrines. Even the requisite café ceiling is acrylic, allowing the existing bowstring trusses to remain visible.
Architects: wHY Architecture
Area: 929 sqm
Project Year: 2008
Program: Art Gallery, Café and Retail Shop
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