Taking time to create a well considered cafe design concept which encompasses not only a great interior design but a strong brand ethos will ensure that when you open the doors to your cafe you are best positioned for success.
It’s easy to assume that opening a cafe is about sourcing great food, hiring experienced staff and serving great tasting drinks, but really that’s not what will keep customers coming back. Over recent years we have all seen a shift towards more conscious buying habits and especially when it comes to investing into hospitality businesses. A huge factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions now will be about the brand and the positioning of the company, what values (if any) they stand by and how they are running their business. This is why its so important to not only ‘design’ a cafe but to craft a brand that wholeheartedly represents all the brand stands for, there is much more to unpack when it comes to designing a cafe interior.
A design concept for a cafe interior should consist of three things, the brand, visual identity and interior design. In this blog we will go into the important parts of crafting a well positioned cafe interior design.
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Do you need an interior designer?
It’s really important to consider bringing a professional commercial designer on board to help craft your interior design concept, the right designer will recognise this importance of integrating the brand story into the space and help weave the brand ethos into all aspects of the interior.
Interior designers are responsible for overseeing an interior transformation from start to finish. Commercial interior designers in particular have a wide skill set and their responsibilities can include any of the following: spatial planning, general arrangements, FF&E schedules, architectural drawings, 3D rendering, visualisations, budgeting, client negotiation, and contractor management.
The right interior designer will work with you to understand the brand, the functionality of the space and the intentions of the business, they will then use this as a foundation to the entire process. Commercial interior designers don’t just deal with the interior detailing and problem solving, they also make sure that the entire design concept and and building works are aligned to the standards and regulations. They are professionals and creatives who work with businesses to create brand storytelling through interior environments, they will enhance your concept and guide you through the cafe design process.
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Familiarise yourself with the Brand story
A key factor when designing a cafe or coffee shop is to ensure you capture the brand’s story within the space, the space should help the customer feel connected to the brand and encourage them to come back time and time again. The implementation of the ‘brand story’ into an interior space will help the brand have a better chance of success.
It’s important, especially for hospitality brands, that they have clarity around the purpose of the brand, its values, positioning and future direction. Having clarity on the above allows any brand communication to be clearer, more purposeful and consistent for the customer. We recommend focusing on this before embarking on an interior project, this way you stand a much better chance of positioning your interior for success and connecting with your customers .
A strong brand positioning will help lead a better interior process.
If you are ready to delve deeper into your brand have a look at our Brand Strategy blog.
Interior Design Concept
The most important thing about your cafe interior is to make sure the design aligns with your overall brand. The easiest way to integrate this into the interior is to start by thinking about why your brand exists, and why you want to open a cafe, the atmosphere you create should speak the same language as your brand. For example, if the cafe is a social hub for the community it would typically be a more casual and communal space and have larger tables to accommodate larger groups.
You want the cafe interior to be instantly recognisable to your brand and not to blend into the other cafe offerings in the area. When thinking about the interior concept, think about the overall mood and atmosphere you want to create for the customers.. One of the most effective ways to keep your cafe interior design ‘on brand’ is to use materials, finishes and furniture that reinforce the message you are trying to communicate. Think about the tangible elements that would reflect the key aspects of your brand? Try to create a clear concept that brings together interior elements that are representative or link back to your brand story. The best way to explore these ideas is together these ideas and research into look and feel presentation.
If you design a cafe that gives your customers more value you will find they will be more inclined to return, strive to provide you customers with a positive experience that they won’t forget. The brand storytelling throughout the interior and communication is what will set you apart from your competitors and encourage your customers to come back for more.
Introducing colour into the cafe interior can be a challenge and finding the balance of decor and atmosphere can be tricky. The size of the space definitely impacts how colour works in a cafe interior, this is often something an interior designer can support with as part of the design concept. In general large amounts of dark colours will make the space feel smaller and can add cosiness if used in the right way, using lighter colours will open up a space and help it feel more spacious, but too much can make the space feel cold and stark. The colour palette is an important part of the design concept and using this as a basis for the cafe will ensure that it all ties together. Colour in a cafe interior doesnt just ended to be on the walls, think carefully about material and colour choices for your furniture as this is a great way to introduce more subtle colours. The colour of your furnishings and accessories can really determine the space, like we said before, your brand colours are important but what you need to focus on is creating a space that represents your brand not just your brands colour palette.
How to achieve the right amount of light in your cafe? A cafe’s lighting will have a few different purposes, there will be the all important task lighting that illuminates the areas where tasks will be completed, e.g reading menus, making drinks, taking orders. Additionally there will be more general ambient lighting to light the overall space as well as decorative lighting to add interest and decorative elements to the interior. The right lighting can complete an interior perfectly and increase the emotional response a customer has to your brand interior. Lighting is often not the first thing people notice when walking into a hospitality venue, however it’s probably one of the first things that evokes an emotional response or feeling for the branded interior, and when the lighting isn’t right it can be very distracting and difficult to relax in a space so it is wise to take this into consideration during the design of your cafe space.
Think about the colour of the light, the strength and the potential location of the lighting and consider the way the light will work with the colour choices for walsl and furnishings too. When choosing lighting you also need to consider the atmosphere you want in the interior, bright and cool lighting will add energy and stimulation to a space and would be more suited to daytime venues and lower and warmer lighting if perfect for cafes that open into the evenings. Lighting can affect customers’ and when it’s just right it will encourage customers to stay and enjoy their experience for much longer. Don’t forget lighting can be both functional and decorative too so don’t neglect your brand personality when it comes to this element for the cafe design, pops of colour or bold statement pieces will create points of focus within the cafe.
Layout and Furniture
In the same way you would position your brand you also need to ensure the furniture fixtures and fittings are carefully selected to align with the positioning of your brand and of the cafe. The furniture in a coffee shop are tangible things that will help connect your customer and are a reflection of the brand’s personality. Furniture is integral to the look and feel of the interior as well as the functionality of the space and consequently has a big impact on the customer experience and element that can really build familiarity to the brand. It’s always a challenge to balance functionality and aesthetics with an interior concept but particularly with furniture.
Depending on the size and set up of the cafe it can really adjust the limitations to the types of furniture you can implement into the interior. With selecting furniture and deciding on the layout of the space it’s all about finding design solutions to make the space flow and function effectively. This is where zoning a space can really help, think about whether you want relaxed seating or dining areas and whether there will be bar seating for visitors looking for a quick drink. The general arrangement of a cafe is something we recommend getting a professional to help with, this can really enhance the functionality of the space, the footfall and the business profit so is well worth consulting a professional. If you select the right size and style of furniture you can really maximise a space and create incredible and comfortable experiences for your customers.
When considering furniture and the layout of these its important to have clarity of the type of seating your cafe can accommodate, it needs to be right for your brand, customer and interior, with this in mind we have listed the main types of seating options and their function below.
Loose seating | If your space is one that needs to be adaptable and agile in it’s approach to seating, loose furniture is a good option for you. Loose furniture is also perfect for combining with other seating options, often paired with banquet seating.
Booth seating| If you are looking to create a cosy and private experience for your guests, booth seating is a well suited choice. Booths are common because of the fact they are much more private than other types of seating and also tend to provide the most comfort for customers.
Bench seating | Casual dining spaces tend to opt for bench seating options, these are great for more communal/social spaces and less private dining. This option isn’t for everyone but a great choice for social environments and if you want to offer a different dining experience to competitors.
Banquette seating | If you need to optimize your floor space banquet seating is a great option. Most often bespoke made, this style of seating will be fitted to the quirks of your space and optimise every inch without compromising customer experience.
When searching for the right furniture take into consideration the size, height and weight of the future to ensure handling is easy for customers and staff. Make sure you have considered the accessibility for your dining and bar seating to ensure there is flow to your space. Choosing fabrics that are hard wearing and easy to keep clean or wipe down is advised for hospitality venues.
Find out more about the commercial interior design process.
Café Interior Design – How Grey Coffee can support your next cafe interior design project
Grey Coffee are able to help you with commercial cafe design ideas. We work with you to understand your brand and create a space that helps transform new customers into returning customers. We believe that cafe interior design is about creating a unique, meaningful and memorable experience for your customers.
Here are some of the most frequently asked commons when it comes to café interior design.
What is Cafe in interior design? Cafe in interior design is essentially a space that sells food and drink whereby customers typically order from a counter and find available seating to enjoy their food and beverages. A cafe can be differentiated from a restaurant as its typically more informal in its service and offering.
What is a cafe concept? A cafe concept typically is a food and beverage offering that provides food and drink to go and in some cases to eat in also. The food and beverage offering usually ranges from tea, coffee and soft drinks with some hot food options and usually a selection of cakes.
How much does it cost to interior design a cafe? The cost to go through an interior design process for a cafe is typically defined by the scope or amount of work to be done. The key things that can impact the cost of a cafe project are as follows: Architectural or structural work to the space Interior decor and fit-out costs Bespoke furniture, chairs and tables Kitchen equipment Air conditioning, alarm and audio systems Exterior signage and lighting
What makes a good cafe design? A good cafe design should be full of character and personality. It should help tell the story of the cafe brand concept and have an identity and look and feel that is recognisable, meaningful and unique. The space should be well planned out so that it supports the key business functions but also makes it easy for customers to way find and interact with the space.
We hope you have found this blog helpful. You may want to consider having a look through some of our other brand insights (below).
- A guide to Commercial Interiors
- Brand Communication & Brand Communication Strategy – Is poor brand communication impacting your business growth?
- Bar Design Guide | How to Design a Commercial Bar Interior
If you’re interested in understanding how we can help you to transform your interior and impact business growth then you may want to explore our Coffee Shop, Cafe, Bar, Restaurant, or Commercial interior design service pages, or talk to us today!