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Interior Design Masters Episode 4 - Cafes - Design Breakdown

The Brief

Three local cafes in Swansea need a make over. This is the first challenge where the designers actually meet with a client and have a discussion about what the client wants. However, even though Michelle wants the designers to listen to the client's needs and wants, she wants the two designers in each team to discuss the spaces together and put their vision first, they must collaborate and create a cohesive and functional space.

The cafe that my teammate and I were given was Full of Graze and we got to meet with cafe owner Jenny on a very windy day in Swansea (it was so windy that the neighbour's guttering flew off while we were filming). Full of Graze is in the seaside town of Mumbles and used to be a Turkish restaurant that Jenny took over and basically just painted cream to make it as neutral as possible. Full of Graze serves grazing platters for parties, does bougie toasties for lunch and coffee and wanted to move into wine and cheese for the evenings. The cafe was on the beachfront but there was a break in front for car parking so it wasn't a perfect view of the ocean. Jenny said she wanted something clean with inspiration from Australia, Bali and Scandinavia. She was certain she didn't want a children's space and she wanted it to go seamlessly from day to evening.

I was really excited about finally working with an actual client because it gives you some very specific boundaries to work with which absolutely challenge and inspire me. Jenny very clearly did not want kitsch and bubblegum and I couldn't wait to prove that I could do something outside of my signature style.

As soon as we saw Jenny and her lovely nude linen trousers I thought of Setting Plaster by Farrow & Ball, it's a colour that changes entirely in any setting but has this amazing quality of offering both the warmth of pink but the neutralness of cream in one colour. The cafe didn't have much light and I wanted it to feel cosy but not too dark so the lightness of the colour would also work there. We also wanted to use plenty of wood to support the food that was served in the space and alongside the pink walls plywood was a perfect partner.

The idea was 'Scandi by the sea' and I really wanted it to feel clean and simple with some warmth from the colour and lights and sprinkles of green from plants in macrame hanging all around.

Ultimately I was really pleased with the finished space. I designed the banquette seating to create a cosier layout; somewhere to slip into in the morning or afternoon and have a coffee and somewhere a bit more intimate for the evening over a glass of wine. The cushions made from ticking stripes really worked to give a bit more texture and an extra layer of colour to the space.

Even though the bar was slightly contentious, I really loved the cork tiles - we did have limitations with what was actually possible with the bar and I think the cork gave the bar a very needed revamp while staying in keeping with the rest of the space.

Working in a team when you have pretty much the opposite taste and style is difficult and honestly I never loved the black fittings, any of the artwork or the menu. I wanted plywood cubbyholes behind the bar to actually give Jenny the storage she asked for and in the end didn't get, which was frustrating because a cafe has to be practical as well as beautiful.

I had really wanted to invest in a menu like this (to the left) because it would've worked so well with the Scandinavian look that Jenny was interested and that I thought would have worked so well with what I wanted to deliver. Especially in the entrance as you're so far from the bar when you walk in it would've been nice for the menu to be visible as soon as you entered and also to be visible from the street.

I also thought a few more touches of linen and a bit more creamy and neutral fabric would have looked really lovely in the space as I felt like it isn't actually Melbourne or Copenhagen but a cosy town in Wales and I would have loved to soften it slightly with textiles. I've attached a mock up below of some of the ways it could have been softened with lampshades and linens in the curtains without blocked any ocean view.

The lampshades might be a touch girly! But it's definitely a nice alternative to soften the space up.


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