All photos courtesy of Costas Picadas
Last December, Ice Scream opened at the Mall at Bay Plaza, giving the Bronx its first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor. In addition to serving up futuristic frozen treats, the shop provides a fun and relaxing rest stop in between shopping. Founded by New Yorker Julien Albertini and Alina Pimkina, from Moscow, interior design firm Asthetíque specializes in luxury hospitality and residential design. Although developing a brand for a family business tailored to children was a totally new concept for Julien and Alina, the duo took on the design for Ice Scream and came up with a concept that “benefits society and makes peoples’ lives and businesses more beautiful and functional,” according to the designers.
Inspired by the 1980s Memphis design movement, Asthetíque has created a space for guests to have “plenty of Instagrammable moments.” From the ceiling’s coordinated light show to the fun mantras written in neon script throughout the 24-seat store (ie: “Ice Scream is better than therapy” and “Count your sprinkles, not your problems”), Ice Scream’s design not only provides a spot for families to make memories, but as a declaration that the “Bronx can contribute to the world of design.” For its innovative and playful ice cream parlor design, Asthetíque was a winner in the 46th annual IIDA Interior Design Competition this year. Ahead, see inside the eye-catching ice cream parlor and hear from Julien and Alina on the brand development process.
A 15-foot-long custom white oak plank table sits in the center of the space
Tell us about Asthetíque. How did it come about?
We were introduced to each other three years ago, but at that time we were involved with our own projects. Julien was the co-owner of a successful design-build company and which had projects in Manhattan, Westchester County, and Long Island. Alina had a design studio in Moscow. But as soon as we met and started talking and sharing our ideas, it became clear that we should do something together. So, we decided to open Asthetíque.
How do you typically approach projects?
We have an efficient system approach, separate for private projects, multifamily residential or hospitality projects, as they have different specifics. In fact, you will be surprised, but not many companies in New York have a systematic approach towards design, so we consider it our strong point.
All of the stools are white, to contrast with the muted pastel color scheme
The walls of the arches boast pink tiles and contain a fun back-lit slogan
How long does it usually take to come up with design ideas for a brand?
It is very individual and depends on many factors. For example, we are currently building a restaurant in Brooklyn. It took us a month to create a concept and to come up with a name. We consider many factors, like the physical space, the environment, the district and the people who live there, what they need and what they might want. Our goal is to create a concept that benefits society and makes peoples’ lives and businesses more beautiful and functional.
What was the inspiration behind Ice Scream’s design?
The Bronx is a place where many cultures live together. An important center of attraction for people is the Bay Plaza Mall, where families and children come specifically to spend time together and create memories. Our task was to create a place for kids that would become a fabulous memory and give warmth and joy to their lives.
Also, not being a very affluent area inspires everyone that visits a new standard of expectation from retail design. Drawing inspiration from the 80s Memphis design movement, Ice Scream is a waffle cone of modernism and pop art with a sprinkle of the 1950s kitsch design style. The 24-seat nitrogen ice cream parlor is a declaration that the Bronx, namely the Mall at Bay Plaza, can certainly contribute to the world of design.
Four arches are illuminated with LED lighting that alternates colors
Tell us about the fun mantras found throughout the store.
We made sure that the guests would not be bored and would have plenty of Instagrammable moments that would translate the brand and reveal the concept of Ice Scream. For example, “Count your sprinkles, not your problems,” “Ice Scream is better than therapy,” and many other catchphrases that are fun and at the same time open the character of the brand.
The “Cookie Monster” flavor includes blue vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookies; Ice Scream also offers lactose-free and vegan options
How did Ice Scream differ from previous projects?
This is a family business established in the Bronx for people who live there and especially for children. It was crucial for us to make it positive, memorable, kind and authentic, so when we saw the guests’ reaction at the opening and many happy faces in photos, we realized that we did it right.
The shop’s front counter draws the eye in with its custom-painted design that matches the brand’s signature pink, blue and yellow camouflage and geometric-shaped print
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
The budget. We came up with the concept and tricks, and how everything should be arranged quickly. And in the process, we thought about how to keep important elements and not to exceed the budget. One of our key systems is to value engineer a product to make it look sophisticated while on a strict budget.
We succeed in remaining within the budget while realizing all our ideas. Budgets are a key part of the hospitality industry, mainly due to the high level of risk and the lower profit margins. Nonetheless, we allocate a lot of attention to the proper specifications of material and constructability on a project.
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Absolutely! This summer, we are opening two restaurants in Brooklyn: one Mexican and one Italian. Both projects have gathered great teams and we want to surprise Brooklynites. Both projects are elegant, purposeful, and unique to the area.
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All images courtesy of Costas Picadas
Neighborhoods : Bronx