Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? In one stunningly decorated Russian coffee shop, the answer is a bit of both.
Café Bw, whose interior is designed to mimic a two-dimensional cartoon world, lets its 3D patrons step into the pages of their very own black-and-white comic book and thereby become part of the art.
“The idea came up to create a place that would be interesting mainly due to its interior—of course, with a good coffee,” Bw creator and owner Solon told My Modern Met.
The café’s stylized two-dimensional renderings of everything from cats, cacti, and laundry drying on a line—to a full-size flat piano—form perfect backgrounds for Instagram-worthy photo ops.
“Our customers have been delighted!” Solon told MMM. “People deliberately come to us to take unusual pictures. Our employees are also delighted with the work and some even waited months for vacancies to open.”
Bw has locations in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but it’s not the only venue to offer fantasy fans a two-dimensional dining experience.
In Seoul, at Café Yeonnam-dong 223-14 (an homage to the Korean TV show, W, whose “IRL” and webtoon protagonists move between the two worlds), it’s the clientele who put the “animated” into the bistro’s anime ambiance.
Of course, for anyone who came of age in the 1980s, this particular “toontastic” intermingling of dimensions is already a familiar part of the pop culture landscape.
Back when MTV was all about the music, one of its most frequently played videos was a-ha’s iconic Take on Me, where boy and girl meet, they fall in love, and fight wrench-wielding bad guys on both sides of the comic book/real-world divide.
Like its 21st-century counterparts, Take on Me is set in a coffee shop—which leaves us to wonder, does too much caffeine lead to comic book fantasies, or does life really imitate art?