The Estates Magazine, July 2017.
Earthy tones drawing from a colour palette of browns, tans and greens make up the airy interior space atAfrican Roots, adding to the rich flavours of perfectly brewed coffee and all seamlessly blending together to create a spectacular sensory experience. Rupert Spence of Sphere Design, takes us on the journey to creating this magnificent space.
As an inveterate coffee-lover, there is no one who could be more excited about a project like this than me. I can only imagine what pride one must feel at having created and established a hotspot like this. Sphere’s role in the project commenced with the conceptualisation of the space and continued right through to managing the fitting out and, ultimately, the final hand-over to the client. “As this was our clients’ first retail venture, we guided them through the entire process to make sure that the experience was as seamless as possible”, Rupert says.
The design brief from the clients was to create “a unique coffee experience”. In addition, the team was tasked with placing the emphasis on the coffee, whilst still providing a welcoming and easy-going environment in which to enjoy it. Also included in the brief was the stipulation that the interior of the store needed to be casual, with organic elements, natural materials where possible and, of course, have a local Durban and African flavour. The team has achieved this and more. Earthy tones beg for a rich variety of textures and the team has managed to incorporate rough and ready with the perfect mix of smooth and sleek textures, using natural materials which add to the authentic feel of the retail space.
A mezzanine level was incorporated into the store, allowing the team to make greater use of the volume available and this has contributed to creating a casual, quiet reading or meeting area upstairs with a great view onto the busy café below. Having this extra level also helped to “break down” the height of the space, thus contributing to the implementation of logical areas for the necessary functional elements, such as the kitchen, dry store and, of course, the office.
“The clients also wanted to create a “home away from home” feel for the interior, which we have achieved by incorporating various re-purposed items of furniture, books and artwork,” Rupert tells us. Green elements, like the planter wall, not only make a statement, but also add life and organic freshness to the room. Rupert says that the team thoroughly enjoyed designing the steel-framed Africa wall and love the layering that it provides, as well as the African flavour that it brings. The raw timber, concrete-look tiles, painted exposed bricks, tan leather and a muted colour palette keep the space calm and cool, providing an ambient atmosphere for people to kick back in.
As the building was still under construction, the planning and co-ordination process with the landlord started almost a year prior to the completion of the project. Rupert says that the fitting out of the interior itself took only about four weeks of intense site-work in order to complete the project. “This kind of fast-track fitting out is common on most retail projects and something that we at Sphere deal with on an almost daily basis. The key to being able to do this is good up-front preparation and pre-approval of everything.”
After a year of planning, construction, fitting out and finally handing over the finished masterpiece, Rupert and the team are more than delighted with their work and are satisfied in that the owners are as happy with the results as they are. “We know that the owners are as thrilled as we are and we have heard that the locals have already become regulars, which is great news,” Rupert says. He encourages everyone to not just grab a coffee on the go, even though you can, but rather to schedule some time to yourself to sit at the leather bench seat tables, or in the upstairs lounge or even in the outside space and just watch as the Umhlanga Villagers pass by. Well, there you have it. Grab a coffee, let your mind drift easily in this grand space and soak up the views that this little gem has to offer.