When tasked with designing the first Boston location for expanding ice cream company Oddfellows, the brand’s name suggested a clear design agenda: foster fellowship among patrons – and be a bit odd about it!

The long and narrow space granted for the store both affords and impedes these aims. An irregular section that varies from double height at the entry to single story at the rear prompted the creation of a sloping matrix of pendant lights to mediate between the zones. An angled mirror clads the soffit beyond, amplifying this fixture field condition and the space’s sole access to daylight through the storefront. Just as the mirrored plane creates odd spatial effects, so too does it enable strange social circumstances; the reflective surface prompts patrons to look up at themselves, invites observation of those around them from an aerial perspective, and provides visual access to the scooping of ice cream behind the counter. 

This “community of vision” extends to the furnishing of the space. A single transaction counter unifies all functions – scooping, serving, and paying – and is kept low to highlight the ice cream and ease the exchange between customer and server. Where the slender space affords, banquettes and dining tables accommodate conversation amongst patrons. In the narrowest section of the plan across from the counter, bar seating alludes to the ice cream parlors and soda fountains of old. Up against a wall rather than looking into a bar beyond, however, the counter may have impeded a sense of community. Again, reflective surfaces were employed to counter this isolating effect. While the proportions of arched mirrors mounted to the wall correlate to a single seat, the scope of their reflections reminds the individual that they are within a fellowship of ice cream eaters; that I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

Merge Architects Inc.
332 Congress St. Floor 6
Boston MA 02210


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