8th June 2023
Combining a listening bar, café and office pantry, OBO’s hideaway space in Cipete defies simple definition, inviting comers to form their own.

When the door shuts behind arriving visitors at OBO in Cipete, the lively sounds of neighbourhood children are immediately replaced by tunes from the space’s collection of vinyl. Sometimes it’s the melodic vocals of Tatsuro Yamashita, other times, a grand string ensemble playing Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 1 in E major.

No specific genre defines the music curation—nor the overall design of the space, for that matter. It finds itself hidden away inside an unassuming, old house alongside a design agency, a production house and a post-production studio without any sign to signify its presence. Keeping most of the house’s original layout intact, upcycled sofas and tables furnish the open living room and poolside areas, while an analogue audio system sits side-by-side with a coffee and mocktail bar underneath a slow-moving disco ball. 

Combining a listening bar, café and an office pantry, it’s quite hard to pinpoint what OBO is by definition. And that’s the point. “We want OBO to be a free space. An intimate space where genuine conversations take place,” divulged Alrio Gaputra, who at first founded OBO alongside Gianni Fajri as a homemade almond milk brand in 2020. “Even when customers come separately, they naturally get acquainted with one another. Once, they formed a group and went to a party together, taking me along for the ride.”

Fuelling the conversations are offerings that lean towards comforting flavours. Options include the straightforward bowl of Mee Yameen, paired with fried wontons; the classic banana fritters Pisang Goreng Can’t Stop, dusted with palm sugar; the sweet and refreshing Strawberry Tea mocktail and of course, OBO’s signature lineup of homemade almond milk. No printed menu is available at the space, so visitors are encouraged to drop a query to the host for what’s currently available on that particular day.

Weekdays see diners plugging away on their laptops. Sundays, it’s families and their furry companions. And in the sanctuary of the evening, conversations flow naturally between newly-made connections, as topics meander from one’s favourite local writers to spirituality. Secluded from the unceasing bustle of the city, OBO is yet another signal to the post-pandemic rebirth of third places that break away from established conventions and defy simple definitions, letting comers create their own based on their experience in the space.