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Soft-Edged Mid-Century Modern At PPP Coffee By Foreign Policy

Designed by Foreign Policy Design Group, the PPP Coffee store at Funan offers a multisensorial coffee retail experience in a setting that feels at once nostalgic and new.

Soft-Edged Mid-Century Modern At PPP Coffee By Foreign Policy

Soft Edge chairs at PPP Coffee Singapore

Singapore’s cult-favourite coffee purveyor Papa Palheta turns ten this year, a milestone worth celebrating in the Little Red Dot’s extremely competitive F&B sector. And it has celebrated wisely with a thoughtful rebranding and a new store. PPP Coffee, as it is known today, is an artisanal coffee brand that connects people and strives to, borrowing the brand founder’s words, “not only sell better coffee but also sell coffee better.” 

And it does sell coffee better at its latest store at Funan, one of Singapore’s next-gen shopping malls. PPP Coffee’s decade worth of coffee know-how, its tried and tested (and continuously evolving) business model (long-time employees can own a share of the store) and the community it has built all factored into the design of this new store. Designed by Foreign Policy Design Group, PPP Coffee store offers a multi-sensorial coffee retail experience in a setting that feels both nostalgic and contemporary. 

Foreign Policy worked closely with branding agency ACRE, who designed PPP Coffee’s logo and branding, to weave the brand’s identity and philosophy into the spatial elements and experience. The new logo took inspirations from the geometric letterforms of ’50s modernist designs. Taking its cue from this, the interior of the PPP Coffee store also channels the mid-century modern era. 

“[It] had no frills. It was honest but yet commanded strength and optimism,” says Elita Ong, Interior & Architecture Partner at Foreign Policy Design Group, about the mid-century modern traits that embody the PPP Coffee brand. “We wanted this to resonate in PPP Coffee store’s spatial language with sophisticated detailing and a simple material palette,” she adds. 

The material palette of PPP Coffee store at Funan is a mix of warm- and cool-toned materials. Dark walnut wood with pronounced grains, terracotta and pebble-wash tiles are paired with textured glass panels and sleek stainless steel surfaces, which lend a contemporary touch to the otherwise retro palette. 

Aside from embodying the store’s fresh branding, one of the main challenges of designing the store was its site, which is completely open and surrounded by the mall’s circulation. “It wasn’t a straightforward retail unit where there is a clear main entrance, so deciding the orientation with the main coffee bar was challenging,” shares Ong. 

The Foreign Policy team has successfully turned this challenge into an opportunity by creating a central stage to present a multisensorial coffee experience to the customer. At the centre of PPP store is an island bar dubbed the ‘experience bar’, where customers can experiment with PPP Coffee’s state-of-the-art coffee machines and brew their own coffee.

Not only can customer enjoy the uplifting smell of coffee and the various brews from PPP Coffee’s decade worth of coffee archive, they can also experience a satisfying process of brewing their own cuppa and walk away with new knowledge. This experience bar has an almost 360-degree view, lending an air of showmanship to the activity happening on it – a stage to impress that still feels intimate and friendly thanks to the store’s scale and warm colour palette. 

The selection of the furniture was also considered to match the store’s relaxed vibe. Foreign Policy specified Danish brand HAY’s Soft Edge chair and stools from boutique furniture retailer Cult Design Asia for the store’s seating area. “Cult’s products are very aligned to Foreign Policy’s ethos – simple and purposeful,” says Ong.

HAY Soft Edge chair with oak stained green seat and black powder-coated frame

HAY Soft Edge stool with oak stained green seat and black powder-coated frame

Designed by Danish design studio Iskos-Berlin, Soft Edge is a family of seating furniture pieces that pairs curves with extreme lightness to create a shape that is both soft and strong using plywood. The collection is made possible to manufacture thanks to the latest innovation in moulded plywood technique, which allows for more double curvature from standard wood veneers. 

“This allows us to create three-dimensional forms that are virtually impossible with ordinary moulded plywood. All the edges of the seat and back are softly curved, making it possible to produce strong and stable pieces that are just six millimetres instead of the usual ten millimetres, thus radically reducing the consumption of natural resources,” say designers Boris Berlin and Aleksej Iskos. 


The edges of the seat and backrest are softly curved away from the sitter’s body, creating an organic outline that feels soft to the touch. The Soft Edge range is available in plenty of material combinations and colours to suit any contract spaces, from offices and classrooms to canteens and restaurants.


For PPP Coffee, Foreign Policy chose Soft Edge chairs and stools with chrome steel legs and oak stained green finish seat and back – a cool and warm material pairing that goes well with the design of the space. “The design of the chairs is so effortless, which fits perfectly in the space,” says Ong. 


In Singapore, HAY is available from Cult Design Asia

PPP Coffee store project photography by Jovian Lim, courtesy of Foreign Policy Design Group. 

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