Located just outside the old town of Ljubljana, Slovenia, on a leafy street next to the Gradaščica river, Lolita Eipprova Café & Patisserie’s charming setting is a fitting prelude to the artisanal interiors that boldly blend architecture, handicraft and art. Conceived by Andrej Mercina, director of local architectural practice TRIIIJE, as a sustainable gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art, the space is an amalgamation of recycled materials, re-used furniture and an artistic installation by Slovenian visual artist Jaša Mrevlje-Pollak, artfully integrated with the property’s centuries-old building fabric. The result of such a hands-on approach is a venue that feels like it has been spontaneously handcrafted on the spot, and in a way it has. “No one can draw this, no 3D visual can illustrate it”, Mercina explains, adding that the project has been mostly designed on-site in direct collaboration with local craftspeople.
With sustainability positioned at the very heart of the project, the TRIIIJE team repurposed as many materials as possible from the building site as well as other construction sites and second-hand suppliers, managing to reduce the need for new materials to less than 30% compared with a conventional fit-out. But what makes this renovation stand out more than anything is its artisanship whereby the building shell became a raw canvas for the team to unleash their creativity using a palette of recycled materials and furnishings.
Exposed masonry walls full of cracks, stains, peeling plastering and chipped corners are interspersed with ceramic tiles, some of which were originally there while others were found discarded in the basement, along with wood panelling crafted out of parquet flooring found on another construction site, and repurposed mirrors rendered in abstract geometric shapes. Curtains and banquette seating upholstery made from assorted fabrics add yet more patterns as do bespoke wall-mounted backrests made from reused chipboard, plywood and textiles. A hodgepodge of vintage porcelain cups and plates sourced from local flea markets further enhances the venue’s idiosyncratic charm while vintage Thonet bentwood chairs paired with bespoke tables designed by TRIIIJE’s Maja Humar conjure the elegance of Parisian bistros.
Despite the diverse patchwork of patterns and textures, everything harmoniously comes together thanks to Mercina’s masterful eye for composition and the floral motifs of Jaša’s expansive mural.