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Design showcase: Milk Train courts Instagram generation

Ice cream and frozen yogurt café Milk Train moved to a new location in London’s Covent Garden at the end of 2018, with its brief to design agency FormRoom calling for an Instagram-worthy home that would appeal to the brand’s core demographic.

Milk Chain’s first permanent branch, the café will also provide a template for future expansion.

The agency worked with Milk Chain to create a strategy that would evolve fore core pillars of the brand, which it defined as surreal, timeless, British and immersive. It then developed a ‘dream-like’ environment that echoed the Art Deco style common in train stations and their associated iconography.

The interior of the site, on Tavistock Street, has been conceived as providing space to reflect the brand’s social media presence, and to allow the space to evolve in line with changing seasons and Instagram trends.

The space was designed to be accommodating, but also to encourage customer to limit their dwell time with a faster customer experience, due to the popularity of Milk Train’s photogenic ice creams.

Features of the interior include globe lighting fixtures, train station-related visual cues such as mosaic tiling, and a play on London Underground messaging with a ‘Mind the Melt’ message embedded into the floor. The signage and ordering system mimics the shutter board screens used on station concourses.

Arched fixtures follow the shape of a train carriage, while seating booths also feature train-style fixtures. A ceiling feature represents the clouds of steam emitted by vintage trains, and old suitcases are displayed on overhead luggage racks.

The exterior uses beaded opaque glass to recreate the steaming-up of train windows.

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