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The Subtle Art of Cafe Design

The Subtle Art of Cafe Design

It doesn’t matter your age, upbringing or disposition, dining at a cafe is enjoyed by all. A colorful and hot breakfast accompanied by a strong coffee will have almost anyone forming a queue, although some cafes seem to attract more customers and interest than others. Nope, it’s not the beans and it’s not even the creative rotating menu – it usually comes down to how a cafe is designed. We, humans, are simple beings really and are heavily influenced by our surrounds and seek out ideal environments without even knowing it. If your cafe could do with revitalization or at least a rethink, we have captured the why and the how of the subtle art or cafe design. Let’s get started.

Carefully select your cafe furniture

The cafe furniture you select for your cafe should be considered for longer than a moment, as this will be where your customers will ideally spend a large chunk of their morning, afternoon and weekends. How long would you conceivably sit on an uncomfortable chair, or dine from a wobbly table? We’re guessing not very long at all. This does not need to be an expensive or elaborate exercise, in fact, many popular cafes are choosing large communal tables and bench seating in favour of individual tables and chairs. It might be wise to do some recon here, so list all the high-performing cafes in your area and beyond and start revising what sort of furniture they have in their establishments.


Manage the flow

As a business owner or manager, you likely want to fit as many people as you can into your cafe. Why wouldn’t you, when you will receive incremental revenue by making this small change? The problem is, your cafe patrons might not feel comfortable jammed into a space, and they certainly won’t feel comfortable divulging their highs and lows to their friends with the next table right by their side. Managing the flow is vital here, so ensure that there is enough space for your service staff to breeze through the tables and for your diners to feel like they have privacy.

Balance indoor and outdoor

Many cafes operate thinking that they need to have an indoor and outdoor offering, no matter what their unique circumstances are. Outdoor seating will not serve every business, particularly if your cafe is on the main road, in direct sun, or neighbouring an establishment that might not put your clients at ease (funeral home, doctors clinic, pound etc). On the flip side, you might have too many tables crammed inside when you could just as easily spread your offering to outside. Weigh up what makes sense for you and your area, and even ask your regulars if they like/would like an outdoor concept. At a minimum, you should have a shop front presence so that passers-by know that you are open and ready to cater to their needs.

 The Subtle Art of Cafe Design

Music and decor

Now that we have covered the basics, we can explore the decor and music within your cafe. It’s very important that these two align, as a laid back beachy cafe might not suit an Iron Maiden playlist. Just a thought. Don’t be too heavy-handed with your decor either, you want to create or hint towards a concept and not saturate your cafe in it entirely. Also, keep your cafe playlist at a low level so that you satisfy all ages. If you are unsure whether you have perfected it, ask your guests as they are settling their bill if the music is too loud. Better to learn straight from the horse’s mouth.

You are now well on your way to establishing a finer cafe product by bringing these ideas to life. Remember that you do not need to implement all these changes at once, and you can stagger them instead to see how effective each stage is in isolation.