This week You! talks to John MacDonald, a New Zealand based interior designer, regarding the contemporary interiors of an international coffee cafe, launched recently in Karachi...
A cafe should be a place where one can let oneself liberate in the real sense. It should be relaxing, warm and pleasing to the eyes, whether you are on the run from a daily hectic routine or having an after work evening chat session with friends. Also, a nice and cosy coffee shop can be a good place to hang around even if you are at a loose end and just want to sit back and relax. In Karachi, a number of coffee houses claim to offer the same vibes, but only a few manage to create that ambience.
In March 2018, the gods of coffee blessed the city of lights with the launch of ‘Esquires Coffee Pakistan’ - an international coffee chain that runs across Middle East, Asia, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. Located at Zamzama, the cafe gives you a fresh, wholesome food and beverages experience with their wide variety of menu tantalising the taste buds. Using the latest barista technology, the cafe’s organic fair trade coffee always has a distinctive rich taste with a smoothness that will leave you in awe.
But, the more important thing to note about the place is its exquisite interiors that take your breath away. Behind this artisanal and fashionable place lies New Zealand based interior designer, John MacDonald, who talks about the inspiration behind this new coffee cafe. “The customer has become more focused on health and wellbeing and this in turn has influenced the cafe’s design with more natural and traditional finishes now being used. Globally, cafes are taking on the guise of what is called the third place; home, office and the cafe where people come to kick back. It is now their place for dining, relaxing with friends over coffee and is repeatedly being used more in a commercial sense for business meetings. The design is influenced by these factors to create an unpretentious, comfortable ambience where you can unwind from the pressures of the day.”
The style of design for Esquires is artisanal with a contemporary twist. A lot of their design is also influenced by both, the location and the country they are designing for. “There are local style elements that we try to bring to all locations, depending on the country. Wherever an Esquires cafe is built, it must connect with the local customers as an elevating yet relaxing environment,” elaborates John.
Talking about the furnishings used in the cafe, John explains, “The furnishings are incredibly important and also very varied. By the use of wood and metal, we have tried to narrate Esquires brand value that incorporates provision of a modern dining experience. Fabrics and timbers connect to provide style and colour coordination that complement with the overall features of the location. Use of plants goes well with the cafe’s aim of promoting 100 per cent organic food and beverages. The furnishing also includes a recent global trend of the wooden community table where larger groups can assemble and study or enjoy a coffee with friends.”
Retail of any sort today demands the best lighting solution. In a cafe, it is even more vital. The coffee shop has a lot of natural light coming in during the day-time but at night, the place demands for a relaxed and moody vibe. “Our designers are aware of the latest in lighting design and employ this in all projects. LED lighting has majorly influenced what can be provided in both specialist and ambient lighting,” shares John.
The overall ambience of Esquires has been created with careful thought regarding customer’s need. The colour, comfort, lighting, music, service, menu, everything has been linked together to create an atmosphere that will enforce the cafe’s values and brand image to provide a memorable experience.
The designer believes that the menu completely reflects in the design of this lovely space. “Our menu and table presentation is of an artisan style. From espresso shots to flat whites to chai latte to a range of specialty teas, the place has whatever your mood calls for. Since there is nothing like a cold brew shower on a hot day, we also offer delicious fresh fruit smoothies, frappes, iced drinks and a selection of designer milkshakes. Not to forget, the assorted breads, oven fresh savouries and a range of healthy delicacies complement their caffeine offerings really well. Since we bake most of the produce on site in each store, rest assured they are providing you with the freshest food in town made with quality natural ingredients,” tells John.
“Our real standouts include the food and coffee which are painstakingly developed to make a point of difference to all other cafes in town. We have kept a quirky brand image and assess all other design projects to make the very best out of the location we have chosen. Also, to maintain this modern approach, our New Zealand based design team devotes quality time every week to ensure they are conversant with everything that is influencing the world of coffee. Also, it analyses to see if what is happening globally is a fad or a trend. Retail design has a very small shelf life these days, so we must ensure that we are getting durability for all we design,” adds John.
Last but not least, John MacDonald discusses the budget in the establishment of the cafe’s interior. “We spent a lot on refining the structural aspects of our Karachi outlet to provide the most ergonomically efficient location for both, the customer and the Esquires team. We have attempted to be as frugal as possible with our design and not spending monies on anything unnecessary while still meeting our core requirements. Recycled timbers are slowly becoming more available and will reduce in price in the long run. With this, we will be able to deliver a more economical solution. Having said that, customer satisfaction is all we care about, and we want it to coincide with what we design as part of the interiors,” he concludes.