Cafes, pictures, check-ins, Instagram and interior design all go hand in hand. The millennial generation knows all too well that a great cafe experience comes with a great cafe interior design. In the age of Instagram and customer check-ins, it suffices to say that having a great cafe interior design is a must. But what cafe owners mostly forget is that the fundamentals of a cafe are different from that of a restaurant. That is why the interior design concepts which work for restaurants do not necessarily fare well when it comes to designing a coffee shop. The psychology and mood of a customer visiting a cafe are different from those visiting a restaurant. You need to tap that psychology and reflect it in your cafe interior design. To help you out with designing the look of your cafe, we have created a comprehensive guide stating on all that you need to know about cafe interior design.
As a bonus, you can take some creative inspiration from these cafes known all across Singapore for their unique and quirky interior designs.
Why Cafe Interior Design Is Important
All sorts of people come into a cafe. While a target audience exists, it is still fluid and vague. Unlike restaurants, no single ambiance is offered in a cafe, and people are free to do what they want as they sit behind their laptops or binge on a book. Coffee accompanies every age group and simple meals which are rather affordable create an atmosphere for both partying, or reading. Hence cafe interior design becomes valuable as that will define how people react to the cafe. The interior concepts, wall colors, table, and chair design, lighting, music, all of these give your cafe a personality which will dictate how people perceive and spend in your cafe. In the end, like any other business, the end goal of a cafe is to maximize profits and minimize cost, which means that the end goal revolves around the customer. Satisfaction surveys have found that when it comes to cafes, customers place more emphasis on having a good experience rather than just having good coffee and cafe interior design dictates the excellent experience that customers look for.
Desired Table Turnover Time
Do you want your customers to have a quick meal or a takeaway and move out fast, or would you rather that they spend a considerable amount of time at your cafe and order as they please during that time? Your interior design choices will impact your table turnover time so make this decision before finalizing your furniture. This is so because the colors you use, the lights you install, the music you put, the way your cafe smells and the furniture you install will create the mood to stay and leave. If you provide minimal seating, near to uncomfortable chairs or more impulsive colors like reds or yellows, it will trigger customers to grab a quick bite and go. This will bring you a step closer to a QSR. On the other hand, pastel colors, relaxing music, wooden furniture, and sofa sitting or comfortable chairs will prompt customers to stay or longer durations. This is the type of environment which most coffee houses lean towards.
Factors Affecting Your Cafe Interior Design
Now that we have established that it is essential for you to have a great cafe interior design, next we look at various factors which impact how you design your cafe interiors.
1. The Concept of the Cafe
The first thing that you need to consider before planning your cafe interior design is your concept. What type of cafe do you want your establishment to be, what will the prices be, what kind of coffee will you serve, are you going to be a friendly neighborhood cafe, a mid-priced commercial cafe, a cafe near a university campus or are you a high-end cafe on a posh street. While your customer demographics will be fluid, the type of customers visiting a mid-priced cafe will vary slightly from those visiting the high-end coffee shop. Moreover, with a change in price, customer expectations will change as well. To deliver the best environment, think about what type of environment is expected out of you and what sort of vibe you want to create.
As far as the size of the cafe is concerned, it will depend on the format and the rent. It is no secret that rentals are touching the sky in Singapore, especially in prime market areas. Nonetheless, try to keep the size anywhere between 800 sqft-2,500 sqft.
2. The Ambiance You Want To Create
Once you know your concept, next comes the ambiance you want to create. This will depend on four major factors- the colors you use, the lighting you use, the acoustics and finally the scent at your cafe. Each one of these affects your customer’s psychology differently. A great cafe interior design is one which accounts for the effect each element will have and balances them in the right proportion to achieve the desired result.
(i) Color Psychology
Colors in your cafe will be the first thing that your customers will notice. They will be important to get your concept across, but at the same time, you must pick combinations which create the mood you want them to. Colors like reds and yellows are considered to be diet stimulants since they create an impulse in our minds. This is one of the major reasons why almost every food joint incorporates these colors to the interior design in varying degrees. At the same time, they will make your customers spontaneous and make them leave quickly. Hence if you want to increase your table turnover time, do not use too much of these and stay away from the brighter shades. Instead, mix them with more subtle and relaxing tones like pastels. This will create a nice balance and keep the colors from overpowering the customers.
(ii) How Lighting Affects Cafe Interior Design
Even if you have the best interior design in the world, incorrect lighting can ruin it. Stay away from very bright lights that seem unnatural. This is because your aim with a cafe is to create a comfortable environment. Very bright lights will over-power your customers, distract them from the food and make them uncomfortable. Dim lights work in a coffee house if you want to give a rustic and exclusive impression. They will create a mood which will make your customers feel like they just got into a separate zone, away from the everyday world, but make sure that there is still enough light for them to see comfortably. Dim must not mean dark. If this is not the sort of cafe environment you want, our suggestion is to recreate day-time natural light as well as possible.
(iii) Acoustics And Why They Matter
‘Sound’ has its way to make us feel various emotions. Our brain reacts to different types of sounds differently. That is why acoustics are an essential element of restaurant cafe interior design. A cafe is a place where people either come to socialize or work in their private spheres, hence unlike bars, extremely loud music in a cafe will be a turn-off. Loud music also creates impulses which complement the bar setting and promotes patrons to drink more liquor, but the same is not true in the case of cafes. Hence you must regulate the volume and pick a playlist that provides background music to kill the silence but at the same time, allows a free flow of conversation.
(iv) Scent Psychology
Finally coming to the last element to your ambiance- Scent. Even the way your cafe smells will create different impulses and solve different purposes. Some restaurants allow their dining area to smell of food as it triggers hunger. Most cafes smell like coffee not because a lot of coffee is being prepared there. They do so because they want the people outside and inside to crave for coffee by being reminded of the taste through the scent and then order more. The smell of cucumber makes a room feel bigger and airy, a handy scent for peak hours. Vanilla, on the other hand, is a relaxant and makes people linger, but don’t go overboard with it as it can trigger allergies or headaches.
3. Human-Environment Relations
Human-Environment Relations (HER) Processes are the way in which humans react to the environmental factors around. They dictate the levels of human comfort in different situations. For a great cafe interior design, you must consider these factors. Cafes depend on customer satisfaction as much as restaurants, bars or hotels do. Satisfaction in cafes is dependent not just on the food, but also on the space and the environment provided. How well-designed the ambiance is will depend upon how well-designed space is, for which interior designers consider these HER processes and optimize their design based on them. Four HER features need to be considered for a great cafe interior design. These are:-
Homeyness, as the name suggests, includes the feeling of being at home. This is done through elements like decor, aesthetic, comfort, feel and touch of space. Cafes need to have a degree of homeyness to make customers feel comfortable, put them at ease, and let them feel free to carry on with their own business. It is all the more essential because customers spend a lot of time in cafes and if the environment does not feel welcoming enough or comfortable enough, you will lose out on profits of the day and customers alike. Designers incorporate homeyness in a cafe through the interiors used, the type of wood used in shelves, the lamps and where they are put, the comfort level of furniture that the customers sit on, etc.
A good example is Antoinette. Though it is a Parisian-inspired patisserie and in Singapore cafe named after the last queen of France, it still brings a homely vibe to the table making it a comfortable space. The hanging ceiling lights take you to another era while the tables and an extensive chest of drawers remind you of your family home. Colors, lights and interior design blend perfectly to hit the right heartstring.
(ii) Environmental Stimulation
Environmental Stimulation means activating a combination of the five senses and positively balancing them so that no element of the cafe gets overpowering. In a way, this HER process is about using the four factors of ambiance (Color, Light, Smell, and Sound) in a way which creates the right mix of emotions in the customers and the right vibe in the cafe. A great cafe interior design will revolve around the aesthetics of his process.
This process involves the measure of psychologically feeling crowded. While the measure itself is subjective, designers optimize the interior design based on individual averages of the feeling. This HER process primarily dictates the layout of the cafe. Everything ranging from the space between two tables, to where the ordering queue and pick-up queue will be is accounted for in the cafe layout, which is based on the measure of crowding.
As noted earlier, cafes host both people who want to interact and people who don’t. Thus achieving the correct measure of privacy in a cafe dictates the placement of interior design elements. A balance must be created to cater to both types of audience. Thus the placement of the furniture, the distance between fixtures, the volume of music and the kind of interior used will cater to varying levels of privacy needs.
You can take some inspiration from Boufe. A minimalist-design and straightforward cafe, it has couches and group tables on one side while a long counter table has single seats for those who would rather not socialize. The combination ensures that privacy is maintained while crowding is kept in check.
No matter what the type or format, interior design is essential when it comes to the restaurant industry. Cafes, like any other sector in the restaurant industry, run on customer satisfaction and how your customers feel in your establishment, is a crucial factor for satisfying your customer.
The interior design of a cafe thus plays a significant role in delivering stellar guest experience. Follow this guide to get your cafe interior design just right!