Café Laurenz: a Hybrid Space

by Janna Jakobs and Anne Sine Sauermann
February 5, 2021
B.A. Retail Design exam project at Peter Behrens School of Arts, University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf, Germany. Mentors and examiners of this project: Prof. Bernhard Franken and Stephan Kaluza
Key message
We pursue the thesis that hybrid retail concepts are essential to ensuring a certain future relevance in a holistic approach. Retail can no longer be considered in isolation.
In an intensive analysis of the history of the German Ceramics Museum and its collection, a hybrid concept was designed to combine the archetypes of a museum, retail (museum store), gastronomy (museum café), events and co-working. The result is a sustainable space that is focused on the needs of visitors, and invites both social and cultural gatherings with its open, informal atmosphere.
This conceptual work for the Hetjens-Museum includes a space that brings together the retail archetypes of a café, co-working, museum store, art and event. Designed with respect to its surroundings, the space aims to create a modern relationship with the historic old town in the city of Düsseldorf and its citizens.


We understand the ceramic material itself as a haptic product of a hybrid process between the elements of earth, water, fire and air. Therefore, in the choice of material, an abstracted form of the elements was taken into consideration: the transparent floor tiles provide a symbolic experience of walking on water. Within its shattered form with pieces of ceramic bound in resin, the tiles create an antithesis to the conserving character of the museum, thereby implicating action and life that is supposed to happen in that individually designed space. Furthermore, the brewed coffee represents the earth, and the red accents function as an intuitive guidance system that is reminiscent of fire, thereby directing the gaze in a targeted and hierarchical manner through the touchpoints of the customer journey. On the higher levels of the seating stairs and on the co-working area on a mezzanine level, the unique view of the cour d'honneur central to the U-shaped urban palais, which was builtin the 17th century as a former noble residence, can be enjoyed from an airy perspective as the highlight of this building. It was very important to us, in a democratic approach, to let as many guests of Café Laurenz have the opportunity to look outside from their seats. This matter of perspective is also one of an open attitude to recognise oneself as a kind of hybrid individual.

Philosophy of the project

The philosophy behind our project is to recognise the potential of the given architecture in its context, and to design in such a way that is both need- and experience-oriented and also sustainably relevant.

In doing so, we understand the concept as a versatile organism that can be modularly adapted according to different needs. We pursue the thesis that hybrid retail concepts (Teufel, Zimmermann, 2015) are essential to ensuring a certain future relevance in an holistic approach. Retail can no longer be considered in isolation.

Hybridisation of coordinated archetypes

The efficient hybridisation of coordinated archetypes, which goes beyond classic retail and meets people's needs, offers the opportunity to contribute a cultural and social value to the community.

We implemented our hypothesis that retail can no longer be viewed as a stand-alone concept with the help of a hybrid concept for Café Laurenz in the Hetjens-Museum. For this, we expanded a museum store in one space by including the archetypes of gastronomy (Sindemann, 2008), co-working and events. Here, it was especially important to us to design these disciplines equally and as interconnected with each other as one multifunctional object in the centre of the given space. The needs of the guests are holistically taken into account. The concept was consequently aligned according to these.

To prove the relevance of the archetypes, we have extensively analysed the trends in society and found suitable case studies showing that hybrid approaches are already successful. At the same time, we took a closer look at the historical background and context in which the project takes place, so that the concept could be authentically embedded. With this multifunctional object, we have shown that hybridisation can work not only in concept but also in space.


The visualisation of the concept on the displays is based on the conditions of the given room in the Hetjens-Museum, and incorporates the respective viewpoint from different positions for an easier understanding of the prospective spatial design. Because the visuals are printed on mesh, they integrate into the space and follow the principle of augmented reality in an analogous way.

In conclusion, we are happy to have received positive feedback from the director of the museum, who was wholly satisfied with the result of our project. Through deep research and intensive examination as well as through the creative and experimental process, we have challenged ourselves to strengthen our holistic and hybrid approach to retail design. We are curious to see if and how the concept can be implemented and will be personally looking forward to having numerous cups of coffees together at Café Laurenz.


Sindemann, K.(2008). Das Wiener Café. Metroverlag.

Teufel, P. & Zimmermann, R. (2015). Holistic RetailDesign. Amsterdam: Frame Publishers.

Case studies

Kinship Studio


Gucci Garden

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech

Jentle Home, Gentle Monster

See related text project