It’s time to head off the beaten track and clue you in to goings on in Bulgaria’s rather beautiful second city Plovdiv. There are traces of settlements here going back 6,000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest, but the city proper was founded by the Thracians before passing through the imperial hands of the Macedonian Greeks and the Romans who all left their mark on the architecture. Here in the newly-rejuvenated Kapana (The Trap) area, the properties are characteristically three storeys with fairly small floor areas — the 20 sqm limitation here was something studio 8½ had to negotiate as they drew up plans for Cat and Mouse.
Kapana was, until 100 years ago, Plovdiv’s craftsmen quarter, and Cat and Mouse (a beer bar and concept store) has recreated a bit of a workshop vibe within it’s artfully unfinished interior — there’s even some ladders stuck to the wall in case one of those caged bulbs goes pop unexpectedly. Bare wood, unpainted metal and uncovered brick add to the work-in-progress atmosphere. The work of local craftsmen is still very much in evidence here, with artisanal products showcased within the store, and the bespoke fit-out from studio 8½ highlighting the natural beauty of the materials.