Masquespacio's signature "total grey" bakery in Saudi Arabia

masquespacio, mo, al khobar, salone milano

Masquespacio Design, MO bakery and coffeehouse in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, courtesy Masquespacio

The Spanish firm has conceived a space inspired by the water cycle, illuminated by silvery glints. Achieving a spaceship-inspired aesthetic through its metallic finishes and reflective surfaces, MO opens up a portal to a parallel dimension

Say Masquespacio and we usually think of colour: bold hues at The Student Hotel in Berlin, pastel colours used at Bun burger restaurants in Milan and Turin, a sneaker collection designed for the Spanish brand Hoff, and the deep blue that, like an ocean wave, washes through Valencia’s La Sastrería restaurant. While the strengths of creative duo of Colombian Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Belgian Christophe Penasse’s indubitably include skillful, personal use of colour blocking, for their most recent project, the MO bakery-coffee shop in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, they chose monochromatic grey with hints of white.

 

From the outset, the clients, managers Omar Bakhurji and Asim Al-Harthi of RightGrain, a company specializing in experiential catering, expressed a desire to steer clear of local tradition and create a highly evocative space that inspires wonderment in customers. Known for its emotional approach and interiors that seem to hail from the metaverse, the Valencia-based firm seems to know the secret to creating just this kind of “wow effect”.

Christophe Penasse takes up the story: “They told us they were keen to pursue a futuristic concept not just in terms of interior design but the baked goods on sale. Their business model was clearly ground-breaking too, including the option of using the venue for a basket of experiences, from events to presentations and concerts...”

masquespacio, mo, al khobar, salone milano

Masquespacio Design, MO bakery and coffeehouse in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, courtesy Masquespacio

The designers drew inspiration for MO’s 400 square metre space from beautifully curated pastries and baked goods displayed like jewels, and from water, a key pastry-making ingredient that, in a futuristic and surreal approach, in all three of its states underpins the project.

“In addition to its key role in pastry-making, this element can distort our perception of reality and force us to look at things differently, which fits wonderfully well with the venue’s philosophy,” Penasse says.

The space is divided into three sections, each of which represents both a stage in the water cycle and a step in making cakes, pastries, and buns. A monumental waterfall suspended above the bar, reconstructed from a large number of polycarbonate tubes sandblasted to mimic the silky effect of moving water, presents water in its “liquid state”, as used in dough-making. Opposite, in an area dedicated to water in its “solid state” and product consumption, ice is represented through a series of lamps hanging down from the ceiling like cylindrical stalactites, or emerging like small icebergs between the tables and sofas. Other spherical, visually lighter lamps symbolize both water’s “gaseous state” and baking.

masquespacio, mo, al khobar, salone milano

Masquespacio Design, MO bakery and coffeehouse in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, courtesy Masquespacio

All furniture was custom-made and designed specifically for this project. Ranging from lounge-style armchairs to stools and sofas designed to accommodate couples, the variety of available seating and tables in different geometries makes it possible to reconfigure the environment by time of day or for hosted events. An RGB LED system embedded in the lighting fixtures helps “tweak” the atmosphere, manifesting light evocatively in a variety of hues and temperatures.

Reinforcing the impression of being aboard a spaceship or inside a dimensional portal to some unknown destination, the colour palette is based on neutral white and grey tones, with a smattering of metallic finishes that reference water and its light-reflecting qualities.

“MO is a parallel universe,” explains Asim Al-Harthi, “a place touched by the unknown in all aspects, from food to beverages to interior design... The huge mirror on the ceiling, a good ten metres above floor-level, represents access to another world, a reflection of reality and a surrealism-inspired portal.”

masquespacio, mo, al khobar, salone milano

Masquespacio Design, MO bakery and coffeehouse in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, courtesy Masquespacio

masquespacio, mo, al khobar, salone milano

Masquespacio Design, MO bakery and coffeehouse in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, courtesy Masquespacio

masquespacio, mo, al khobar, salone milano

Masquespacio Design, MO bakery and coffeehouse in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, courtesy Masquespacio

masquespacio, mo, al khobar, salone milano

Masquespacio Design, MO bakery and coffeehouse in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, courtesy Masquespacio

Salone del mobile Salone del mobile
29 September 2022