Tactile surfaces made from sisal plant fibres helped Master Studio foster an inviting atmosphere inside this pared-back coffee bar in Cape Town, South Africa.
“I think that it can be difficult to strike the balance between minimalism, warmth and texture,” Yaniv Chen, co-founder of the studio, told Dezeen.
“We achieve this by using a maximum of two or three materials for an entire space – this idea pushes you to use materials in weird and wonderful ways.”
The coffee bar occupies a retail unit that had previously been left empty due to its awkwardly narrow floor plan. It now boasts a slim counter running around its perimeter that allows customers to comfortably stand and drink locally-roasted coffee.
Sisal – a natural fibre made from the Mexican plant, agave sisalana – covers all of the cafe’s walls and the central service counter which slants down towards the floor.
“I’ve always had an affinity to the design style of the 1970s and 1980s. There’s this sense of nostalgia for me – the conversation pits, the wall to wall carpets,” explained Chen. “I wanted to use this as an abstract idea and somehow translate it into a contemporary context.”
“The vast scale in which the sisal was used emotes a natural organic harmony that brings stillness to the space, allowing one to pause,” added the studio.
Timber has been used for the floorboards, shelves, and to create a simple menu board. Composite material Corian forms the surface of the high counters, selected by the studio for its “seamless” appearance.
Huge panels of glazing align to create the front façade of the bar, emitting a deep yellow glow onto the adjacent street as night falls.
Other than a couple of ceramic vases filled with wildflowers, décor has been kept to a minimum. Flashes of colour are provided by packets of the cafe’s own coffee beans that are openly on display.
Master Studio isn’t the only designer to make use of sisal in retail spaces. Back in 2014 Arquitectura-G used the textile to upholster stepped display platforms in a Barcelona homeware boutique.
Photography by Sarah De Pina