Opening a Café? Go Minimal

The above photo is from the Drop Inn & Cafe in Japan.

The art of minimalism is when someone intentionally removes unneeded, distracting objects or designs from their lives. Usually, people implement this lifestyle into their home’s interior, however, it can also appear in office spaces, restaurants, bars and cafés. Architecture, design and space are reduced to only the necessary elements, creating a soothing, clutter-free environment; calling people back to simplicity.

Although minimalism is a recent trend, it has appeared in many cultures; the most notable being the Japanese culture of Zen Philosophy. This mandate of combining simple aesthetics with design and functionality influenced the Western society as early as the 18th century.

There seems to be little evidence of minimalism becoming obsolete; with people adopting minimalism as more than a design trend, and turning it into a lifestyle. Therefore, if you’re thinking of opening a café which uses this “less is more” approach, here are a few inspirational ways for you to adopt minimalism into your architecture and décor.

Be Uniform

Discuss and set a neutral color scheme. White, cream, light browns, pastel blue or pink; even light wood, will all set a relaxing and calming atmosphere. Too much loud color can become quite chaotic. Instead, by implementing the bare minimum means your customers can sit down, read, write or talk while unwinding. They may end up staying for a couple of hours because it’s the perfect place to concentrate without pointless distractions.

Purchase the same tables, chairs or bar stools. A uniform set of furniture will create a crisp, clean design. It will also make your whole café Instagrammable – which is perfect for your social media marketing. Do, however, make sure not to skimp on comfort.

This goes for your food, too. As a café, you will be serving cakes and light lunches. Make sure all your produce is consistent in both taste and aesthetics. Chu Bakery, in Australia’s Perth, produce pristeen uniform and visually stunning cakes, donuts and other baked goods which are minimal in design, but clever and playful in taste. Their bakery also has the perfect backdrop for showcasing their sweet treats.

Of course, you only have to be uniform front of house. Behind the scenes, in the kitchen, will be more utilitarian and industrial. Commercial kitchen equipment is essential, however, if you’re thinking of having an open kitchen sleek, matching or identical steel appliances can still be minimalistic and offer a continuation to the theme in the rest of your café.

Be Clever

Leave small, clever details dotted around your café. Many minimalistic cafés will incorporate witty details in their signs. For example, if you’re selling cake, turn the ‘a’ into a smooth-lined slice of cake. You can also dot funny slogans or sayings around the café, however, be sure not to over-do it. If you want variety, have a chalkboard and change the quote every other day or so.

Be Playful

Minimalism doesn’t mean you have to be boring. People think subtle colors are underwhelming, however, you can show your playful side through simple designs. Many cafés experiment and add expression through the light fixtures: a string of lights randomly hanging from the ceiling, or clean shapes such as circles or uniform squares. You could even place identical plants in the center of each table, but have each plant pot a different color. These simple, but fun, bursts of playfulness will make your customers smile.

Alec Neufeld is a retired builder, now freelance writer and part-time general fix it man. He has strong opinions on the use of alternate energy and is also an avid sports enthusiast.