Nigel Coates discusses his breakthrough interiors project Caffè Bongo

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In this movie from World Architecture Festival and Inside Festival 2013, architect, designer and Inside Festival jury chair Nigel Coates discusses his breakthrough interiors project Caffè Bongo and explains what he was looking for when judging the awards.

“I don’t really see interior design as a discipline,” says Coates. “I see it as a phenomenon. I call it ‘atmos’: when something special happens in an interior which isn’t just functional or stylistic.”

He goes on to explain that, for him, a good interior “needs to communicate something extra. Not just to a visitor but to the person who lives in it, who’s familiar with it. It needs to create a warmth, cause a kind of alchemy in the way you exist in it.”

Coates says his breakthrough in interiors came in 1986 with Caffè Bongo in Tokyo. Inspired by Italian director Federico Fellini’s 1960s movie La Dolce Vita, the café combined classical statues and architectural elements with parts of an aeroplane that had seemingly crashed into it.

“[It] may seem completely wild,” says Coates. “But I still assert that the crashed aircraft into that building was calm compared with the other nonsense that was going on up and down the street.

“There was an aircraft wing at the top of the window. Charles Jencks described it as a crash. I would see it more as a fusion of the biggest object that symbolises movement and the architectural condition of the window.”

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