A multifunctional White Rabbit Surf Café has appeared on the shore of the Southern Bug in Khmelnitsky: here you can drink coffee and run through the waves.

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

“It’s one thing when you work on a private project for a particular family with their TK, their vision and wishes, and quite another when you do it for yourself and about yourself”” says designer Natalia Solovey, founder of SOLOVEYDESIGN studio. So the White Rabbit Surf Cafe on the shore of the Southern Bug turned out to be imbued with the spirit of freedom, not only because the atmosphere of a cozy cafe and SUP-boards rental are combined in one building, but also because it is Natalia’s own cafe and her husband, entrepreneur Oleg Solovyov.

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

The history of the surf cafe turned out to be quite personal: Natalia was mainly engaged in residential interiors and dreamed of a cafe, and Oleg was fond of SUP surfing and wanted to develop this new sport in his hometown. As a result, the couple decided to combine their dreams and efforts. A suitable space was found in a one-story building from 1964, next to a sports stadium on the banks of the Southern Bug. Once upon a time there were showers and changing rooms for volleyball players who trained nearby, but for the last 20 years no one cared about this place.

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

“When I entered the building, at first I took my breath away—” the designer recalls. — I barely noticed mold on the walls, crumbling plaster or remnants of tiles from the Soviet period. Instead, I saw beautiful brickwork and a picturesque view of the river”” However, initially the view was closed from the eyes by a blank wall, so it was immediately decided to install a large window in its place. “I imagined our cafe so vividly that I didn’t waste time on accurate drawings and renderings. One short sketch on a piece of paper was enough. We made drawings only for power grids and custom-made furniture”” Natalia shares. 

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

The total area of the space turned out to be 65 m2. You can get to the surf cafe through two doors: through the main entrance from the stadium or through the exit to the terrace. Inside, the room is divided into two parts: in one there is a cafe, and in the second there is a shop and rental of SUP boards. There are no doors between them, only an asymmetrical doorway that the designer and her husband made with their own hands: Oleg wielded a hammer, and Natalia suggested where to hit and which part of the wall to leave untouched.

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Almost all the furniture is made to order: the bar part, shelves, seats, upholstered backs are made according to Natalia’s sketches in local workshops. The furnishings are supported by items from Ukrainian brands: a white coffee table from Staritska Maysternya, a ceramic vase from Natura Segamisa, armchairs from ProPro Furniture designed by architect Slava Balbek. The designer presented the latter here from the very beginning; in order to implement the idea, it was necessary to order chairs at the factory and paint “according to RAL” for the object. And there is also a fireplace, which is lit in winter and serves as a real heating device.

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

In summer, there are more guests on the terrace and on the embankment next to the institution than inside the cafe. “During parties, almost half of the city gathers here. We have formed a large and vibrant community around White Rabbit: people who are fond of SUP, yoga on the water, sunsets, poetry evenings, chamber concerts of live music, exhibitions of young artists. There is a land here where people open up and share what they love most—” Natalia admits. —In a short time, we have influenced the urban culture of recreation and opened this part of the park and the river bank to people who had not come there before””

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

Photo: Evgeny Avramenko

Кафе и SUP-прокат в помещении бывших волейбольных душевых

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