A steampunk cafe can easily quench the thirst for unconventional design. The Enigma Cafe and Bar in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, is a unique place where the decor comes alive through kinetic energy. You’ll be intrigued at first, then hypnotized.
Inspired by the idea of time travel, Romanian designers of 6th Sense Interiors imagined the cafe as a tribute to time and motion: “At the center of it is the often-visited idea of the time machine, but we all have to admit that there is more to time than just time traveling. Time is, after all, the material that life is made of; and all the details in between, which are constantly added to the common act of growing and evolution, are time constrained.”
Introducing kinetic elements in public-space design was an inspired idea, as the Enigma Cafe is filled with decor that moves you. Just as the entrance of Epic Society in Timisoara, Romania, is guarded by a mirror mosaic-covered dummy, the entrance to this steampunk cafe is guarded by a familiar silhouette: a man pedaling a bike.
This familiarity dissipates when you take a good look at it, however. “The ‘time slave’ produces shock with the visible synaptic connections inside its transparent skull,” the designers say.
The story of time is a story about ourselves, as the designers explain: “Universally, time is a giant clock. This is why our design story starts with a clock — not just any clock, but one that gives you the feeling of being inside it. Placed on the far wall of the bar, the clock impresses at first because of its size.
“Framed by a wooden rim, the clock offers an inside perspective, with dozens of wheels of different sizes moving at the same time. The clock is also illuminated by an LED band on the edge of the wooden frame. Mechanically, what we were trying to build here was an inside view of time itself.”
There’s a deeper idea underlying the concept of this space, as the designers unveil: “Various details focus on labyrinthian imagery: the patterns on the ceiling, multiple industrial boards representing secret entrances to all those possibilities life has reserved for us, the key to which are the ultimate choices we make, choices which will either imprison us or set us free.
“Like any piece of machinery, the time we have created in Enigma is powered by an engine also clearly visible to the naked eye, placed on the front wall of the bar counter. This serves as a power outlet for both the giant clock and the time machine shaped as an elevator meant to take you to different time zones. We’ve set it all up for you: a designed story of time.”
Plenty of photos and a video by Gabriel Rosca show us details of the club. The kinetic sculpture‘s motion also can be seen in the video below. Another uncanny cafe design to look for in Cluj-Napoca is one that mixes cardboard, coffee and culture. Public spaces should be inspiring, and Romania’s natural beauty seems to do wonders for creative minds.