SHORTLISTED BEST CAFE 2018
Eat Drink Design awards
Merges modern bohemian accents with traditional tropical touches, capturing the spiritual essence of Bali the client so treasures while transporting the cafe's clientele to an urban
oasis -peaceful and rustic- that not only complements its wholesome food but embodies the
authentic design and brand by the practice.
The inspired design for Against The Grind answers the clear client brief to capture the essence of
Bali in a café. The result is an urban oasis emphasised at every touchpoint through consistent
branding and considered interior design that transforms a new commercial build into an authentic tropical retreat. Anchoring Against The Grind’s design is a striking communal table with bohemian rendered surface extending over half the café area to create a shared family-feel eating experience.
Edging the communal table is a beaten brass bowl providing both a functional water station and a
symbol for the purity of water, tranquillity of Bali and –warming gold in colour– the heart of the café.
Overseeing this symbolic heart is a wall-sized black and white kakek image of a weathered man in
ceremonial dress, evoking an atmosphere of innocence and wisdom. While overhead, black painted woven timber fans stir a gentle tropical breeze.
Against The Grind is not only an injection of tropical Asia into the Australian landscape but a
welcome addition to Melbourne’s renowned café culture. Equally welcoming is the front counter,
curved to create a sense of flow and promise of the seamless hospitality experience to come. Yet
seamless doesn’t mean soulless. Walls are rendered in a concrete finish using an ancient process of
applied muslin and chalking, a treatment commissioned to create subtle imperfections and engender a warm soul and aged character to the café. Also important to the hospitality experience –yet often overlooked– the bathroom design continues the theme of modern bohemian with a tropical touch featuring a handcrafted wall basin mixing a rustic wire basket with white modern basin.
Understanding the diverse needs of café’s clientele, the design also caters with flexible seating options: from 70% communal area to 20% small collections and 10% casual love seat eating.
A key challenge of the Against The Grind design solution was to successfully create Balinese
authenticity in a new build in suburban Melbourne surrounded by un-established blocks. Lining
windows with purpose-made tropical planter boxes not only injected height, movement and colour
into the design but cleverly created a peaceful Asian oasis screened from the outside world.
Preserving the purity of white without being clinical was also a design challenge when considering
floor design. The final concrete treatment mixed with epoxy is white yet rustic and perfectly
functional for busy café traffic. Furniture selection also cleverly mixes modern designer pieces with
traditional sugar-grinder stools from the mountainous tropics. Their natural cane elements were especially selected to depict bamboo, while accented by contemporary black-rope strapping and edging. Confirmation of the brand’s authentic DNA is reinforced by hand selected water pitchers,
custom-designed timber plates and hand potted drink beakers with bespoke Against The Grind
Steve Jobs said, ‘Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of
people.’ And my designer and I have been a great team! She heard my vision, felt my passion and
was truly collaborative in her design approach, seeking my input throughout the design journey. In
fact, her impact extends well beyond just the interior café design. She created an integrated brand
experience including logo, menu-executions, bespoke ATG crockery and mission statement that
inform the final physical design and transform ATG from being just another café into a truly special
space and unique hospitality experience. Her design solution captures both my vision for a vibrant,
nurturing and sustainable hospitality business and also my love for the people, lifestyle and
spirituality of Bali. The result is an authentic oasis for my customers, a growing business success for
me and a new friend for life.
Against the Grind
Design and Documentation
Materials and Finishes
Furniture and Fittings