Caffettiera by MRDK


MRDK – Ménard Dworkind architecture & design 


David Dworkind




Montréal, Québec, Canada


In Italy, going to the coffee bar is not just about the coffee. It’s about taking a break from the day, meeting up with friends or taking the time to contemplate life. Caffettiera Caffé Bar aims to bring that culture to North America at its 745-square-foot commercial space in the heart of downtown Montreal. The café’s design was inspired by the 1990s. Andreas, the café owner, fondly remembers this as a better time in Italy, when it still had its own currency, a less turbulent political climate and the best soccer team. Caffettiera offers a relaxed atmosphere where you can stop by and stand at the counter for a quick espresso before work, or lounge on the tan leather banquettes for an aperitif and a bite to eat.

A black monolithic terrazzo bar snakes its way through the space, integrating a series of sandwich, pastry and retail displays that are bookended by two points of sale. Signs slide on an orange painted steel beam above the bar and indicate where to pay and order depending on the daily traffic. A cove at the base of the counter creates a seamless transition to the checkerboard mosaic floor. Italian products are proudly displayed on a large shelf that runs the length of the space behind the bar.

The walls are covered in faux-wood plastic laminate panels, a material key to the nostalgia of the café owner. Above, an up lit stepped bulkhead curves around the bathroom block. Two symmetrical banquettes converge at a customer service station backed by a lush planter. Curved mirrors, divided by concrete columns, give a sense of spaciousness to the otherwise tight café. Vintage chairs found in the classified ads were reupholstered with tan leather to match the banquettes. Covering the tables, a mix of five different coloured laminates gives a graphic dimension to the project. Pushing the 90s theme even further, pendant lights fabricated by Lambert & Fils were designed using yellow telephone wire.

In designing Caffettiera, the goal was to highlight the customer experience and was planned in such a way to encourage social encounters while discovering the Italian way of life. An emphasis was put on nostalgia with the help of a scattered array of vintage books, stickers, toys, and photographs from the 1990s. The relaxed environment allows customers to appropriate the space and slowly become an obligatory stop at any hour of the day.

Text provided by Architect

THE TREE MAG – The Fruits of Ideas