It’s a warm, breezy day in Kharkiv, and there’s no better place to spend it than Plarium’s 13th floor. A gust of wind swirls through the kitchen, stirring up a delightful bouquet of aromas – roasted garlic, oregano, and basil. Sheer white curtains flutter against the entrance to a terrace where I can enjoy bird’s eye views of the city.

Plarium’s staff clearly share my affection for the scenery – or, at least, for the wonderfully soft, spongy chairs around the patio. Many of them seem lost in thought, taking in the sounds of birds; others, wrapped up in frenzied debate, scribbling notes amid lively hand gestures. Perhaps, inspired by their surroundings, they’ve come to brainstorm ideas for Plarium’s next great game.

There’s something special about this café – besides being brand-new, of course – something elegant, artful, serene. I was anxious to learn more about its construction, so I had a chat with its creators, Parkhomenko Serhii, the Interior Design Team Lead, and Obiedkova Liudmyla, the Director of Operational Support Department.

The 13th floor kitchen charmingly mimics a “market” with mini booths. Did you consider any other themes before choosing this one?

Serhii: Of course! We had plenty of cool options, so it was hard to choose just one. But at last we settled on the “open square” concept, brainchild of Demydiuk Iullia, Shataliuk Denis, and Nochovnii Oleksandr. According to their design, the space emulates a marketplace lined with quaint, little shops.

When we executed that idea, we couldn’t help but be inspired by the organic freshness of Mediterranean bazaars. It’s a mercatino of sorts – like a place you might find somewhere on the Italian Southern coast.

Liudmyla: The kitchen is very comfy while being fully functional. And actually, our opening presentation happened on March 8 – so it just seemed right to beautify the space with plenty of flowers!

Serhii: We also made an effort to use only high-quality materials during construction: lots of wood, vintage-looking ceramic tiles.We hauled a 10-ton granite slab all the way from Zhytomyr for the kitchen tabletop – and it’s really quite durable, practical and glossy. We paid close attention to every nook and cranny to carefully preserve the appearance of open space.

So… let’s cut to the chase. How much cake can we fit in that kitchen? How many people can eat cake at the same time in that kitchen?

Serhii: Well, you’ll have to do some cake-math. The kitchen (including the bar and lounge) is 130 sq. m. in area, and the ceiling is 3 meters high. That’s enough room for 50 people to eat cake. To calculate the amount of cake one can possibly fit in our kitchen, you would need to provide dimensions for every cake and the total number of slices [laughing]. Keep in mind that when weather permits, many people can go outside to eat cake on the terrace – increasing the maximum potential ratio of cake to people.

Were there any really special details you paid extra attention to?

Serhii: Every detail was painstakingly examined! For example, we had to consider the number of people that would be able to move comfortably around the kitchen. It took us forever to figure out how best to organize the zones without making the area seem cluttered.

Liudmyla: Sometimes a project can puzzle us because of a room’s unusual form. For example, the bar and kitchen zones are easy to pass over, and if we had made poor design choices, they would have lost their central focus.

It was also a priority to install high quality furniture. We expect the space will be enjoyed by a growing number of people over time; in light of that, maintenance is a must. We want everything to last a long time, and the real heroes in that regard are, of course, the technical staff. We were happy to build a functional, cozy area for them!

What can you tell me about the lighting?

Liudmyla: During the day, the room fills with light from natural and artificial sources. We really strived to create that feeling of being in a bright, open market. In the evening, when we turn on the spot lights, our sunny café transforms into a moonlit terrace.

How did you choose the color scheme? Do you think certain colors can stimulate the appetite?

Serhii: I absolutely believe they can, but I’m not really sure why. Perhaps more research should be done on the subject… That said, we certainly didn’t make our choices based on color psychology! We decided to go with pastel shades that were reminiscent of vintage, sun-bleached buildings on a shopping street.

Liudmyla: We chose bright, tasteful shades – nothing too harsh or flashy. We know that everybody spends a lot of time staring at computer screens, so we wanted our colors to be easy on the eyes.

What difficulties did you face while working on this project?

Serhii: We had some problems with the delivery of materials, but that’s to be expected when you’re trying to source so many of your materials from smaller, local suppliers.

Liudmyla: Yes, it really was a complicated project! All the furniture was custom-built, and we needed appliances made to exact specifications. Plarium supplied many customized manufactured goods, and we never compromised quality.

What did you like most about the project?

Liudmyla: We had absolute freedom to realize our ideas; we were able to express ourselves as designers, and that was an inspiring journey. We accomplished our given task – to create a beautiful kitchen that feels part of the office.

Serhii: I enjoyed solving the problems we faced in spite of our strict deadlines. Together, we converted an empty space into a charming mini café straight out of downtown Naples. I’ll never forget the astonished looks on everyone’s faces at our opening ceremony!