Many months of lockdowns had the effect of making most of us more reliant on digital realities, but also more weary of them. We might have got used to having work meetings on Zoom, but getting a coffee? Surely, that’s something we can still do beyond a screen. 

London-based design and architecture practice Giles Miller Studio begs to differ and its virtual coffee bar is an attempt to explore how virtual reality can be used to reconfigure spaces beyond the increasingly popular VR art galleries or retail spaces

Giles Miller Studio and cult London coffee brand Grind virtual coffee space

Visitors of the digital space will find themselves walking through a lush park-like environment and into the Giles Miller gallery space. Once inside, you can view Giles Miller exhibits or visit the coffee bar that has been created in collaboration with London coffee brand Grind. 

The studio says that its digital coffee bar is not intended to recreate the typical café experience but to offer a new dimension by rendering the coffee shop visit in a digital format.

Giles Miller Studio and cult London coffee brand Grind virtual coffee space

‘As a digital entity, our coffee bar is not the usual warm and crowded space to meet, work and relax,’ says the studio. ‘Instead it is a digital space where visitors from around the globe can instantly experience an insight into the workings of Giles Miller Studio’s creative output as well as some of the beautiful products on offer from cult coffee brand Grind.’ 

So, while you can’t buy a coffee, you can view Grind’s own pod machine, designed to get the best from its compostable Nespresso pods and inspired by the Italian espresso machines used every day in its London cafés, and you can enter a competition to win a (non-virtual) machine of your own.  

Giles Miller Studio and cult London coffee brand Grind virtual coffee space

From Grind’s perspective, the project is a way of adapting to the times. ‘When we were forced to close our doors due to the pandemic, we were faced with the challenge of bringing Grind to life in a way that was completely new to us, and spent our time in lockdown helping people make better, more sustainable coffee at home,’ states the brand.

Eco tiles made from coffee byproducts adorn the installation

‘We couldn’t wait to reopen and are so grateful to be welcoming people back into our cafés again now, but we’re excited to find new ways to meet people – and bring them together for coffee – moving forward. Working with Giles Miller Studio on this project allowed us to do just that, as well as celebrate some of the incredible work the studio has done with its eco tile, made from the byproducts of coffee processing.’ The coffee tiles are used to bring texture to the undulating shelving seen in the coffee bar space.

Giles Miller Studio and cult London coffee brand Grind virtual coffee space

It is an interesting foray into the metaverse, one that, as Giles Miller describes it, ‘gives visitors the chance to see how a material-obsessed design studio and a very real coffee brand have chosen to experiment in the new digital world’. §