Atelier Tobia Zambotti Designs a Glacier-Inspired Ice Cream Parlor in Iceland's Perlan Museum

A front-facing view of the ceiling installation draws focus to the ice cream trays. Photography by Patrik Ontkovic.

The Perlan—Iceland’s national museum based in Reykjavík, which highlights natural wonders within the country’s landscape—boasts an indoor ice cave made from snow and ice found in the country's Bláfjöl mountain range, but that's not all. Museum CEO Gunnar Gunnarsson tasked local design firm Atelier Tobia Zambotti with designing a new ice cream parlor for the locale, inspired by the bold and dynamic colors reflected in caves found in glaciers. 

A side view shows how the foam prisms encompass part of the ceiling and sweep down to the wall. Photography by Patrik Ontkovic.

Walking into the space, instantly the eye goes to the kaleidoscopic-like composition of cool-toned stalactites emerging from the ceiling. Tobia Zambotti, founder of his namesake firm, says he created this optical illusion by using the colors found in the reflective light of glacier caves, which swoop down from the ceiling and, ultimately, pull the customer’s vision to the ice cream trays below. "It's bold, iconic, and strong," Zambotti adds, noting that in the age of Instagram, he wanted to add an interactive element to the design. 

A close up of the kaleidoscopic-like ceiling and wall installation. Photography by Patrik Ontkovic.

Made from foam, the blue and white ceiling-detail also offers an acoustic solution, quieting the hum of the freezer. Working with only 50 square meters, many of Zambotti's design decisions center around effectiveness and convenience for those within a space. The stainless steel back-counter reflects LED light strips which further brighten the foam prisms and add an icy 4500K light to the parlor. To maintain focus on the blue-hues throughout the sleek interior, the cash register is hidden behind the white Corian counter.

LED lights create a bright glow from above that also reflects off the stainless steel counter. Photography by Patrik Ontkovic.

Creating a unique and contemporary space inspired by the Icelandic landscape makes the Perlan Ice Cream Parlor an attraction in and of itself—offering a creative interpretation of a glacier with design as cool as its treats. 

The minimalist counter enables the ceiling installation to pop. Photography by Patrik Ontkovic.

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