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6 café design trends and ideas

If you’re about to open or makeover a coffee shop, café or casual restaurant, what are the café design trends and ideas to be aware of? Here, we unveil six of the trends from those in the know.

Interior design blogger Emily Osmond, picks 5 café interior trends to take note of; we share two from her list:

  1. Flora galore: While flowers and plants have been making their way into local cafes for some time now, some cafes are taking this to a whole new level. Consider incorporating a leafy feature wall or vertical herb garden to create an outdoor oasis that can be enjoyed all year round.
  2. Clashing textures: Instead of creating interest with colour and patterns, some cafes are opting for a minimalist approach and creating detail with clashing textures. Think up-cycled wood tables, concrete, copper fixtures, marble bench tops, intricate iron bars, crisp white shelves and shaggy pillows.
Interior fit out and design specialists Liteco call out Fast Food: Multifunctional Space as a key trend to consider. As the move to casual dining doesn’t seem like stopping anytime soon, they say that the cafes of the future will serve fast food in a multifunctional space that enhances the coffee experience and provides a comforting ambience.

Hospitality entrepreneur Nathan Toleman told Broadsheet writer Katya Coleman that he predicts the continued diversification of the cafe, the pub and the restaurant. As part of this, he sees more cafes taking a leaf from the restaurant book and incorporating the open kitchen.

“People want to be more involved in the process, so we’re looking at doing more open kitchens. The Kettle Black is the first time we’ve created a window where the kitchen is a part of the space and I think we’re going even further,” he told Broadsheet.


Founder of design firm Foolscap Studio, Adele Winteridge cites the increase in mixed-use spaces, where retail and hospitality merge, or where the buying and eating of food occurs in the same zone, as a key trend. “That will drive space and how we use it, not necessarily a design aesthetic,” she told Broadsheet.

The designers at Liteco agree. They see recent trends moving towards retail therapy mixed with the coffee experience and suggest checking out Lock 7 Cycle Café in Hackney, London or the MOJO in San Francisco where you can fill up on your favourite coffee and buy a new bike or have your bicycle fixed all at the same time.


Living in smaller homes will mean seeking out new spaces to socialise and eat. David Rockwell, a New York-based architect who’s well-known for his restaurant design told writer Shaunacy Ferro of Fast Co Design that as cities get denser, space gets tighter and homes get more compact, neighborhood restaurants will become adjunct living rooms.

We can see that in Sydney already with The Living Room Café in St Ives. A licenced dine-in café that serves breakfast and lunch it has loads of seating and cosy booths.


While ‘look and feel’ trends are one thing, don’t let the complete café experience slip off the radar. And when it comes to the complete experience, sound is a key sense that’s often overlooked.

Experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence from Oxford University, the winner of the highly coveted IgNobel prize in 2008 for the Sonic Crisp and author of the perfect meal. The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining, says sound is the forgotten flavour sense.

“Now we are very much in the era of the visual appearance of the food being key. How will this dish look in my next cookbook, how will the pictures that the gastrotourists post online look?” he told Fine Dining Lovers.

“But beyond that, I really think that sound is the forgotten flavour sense. It really does play a much bigger role than many chefs and any of us realize.” If you want to design your next café fit out with great acoustics and customer experience in mind, download the Acoustic Design Guide for restaurants and cafés.