A Cool Concrete Cafe in Melbourne

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Local architecture and design studio Ritz&Ghougassian created a muted, minimalist interior for Penta, a Melbourne cafe dishing up colourful fare. 

Penta, a popular eatery in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick, offers a menu of dishes loaded with healthy, brightly-hued ingredients. To keep the focus on the food, local firm  created a monotone interior that’s modern and minimalist. “The dishes on offer are given a muted and distilled background to allow them to be the real stars,” the firm says. “We took this opportunity to push the limitations of what people would otherwise expect both aesthetically and experientially from a hospitality venue.”

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Black, white and grey comprise the palette inside the 155-square-metre space, interrupted with pops of green from Australian ferns. The polished grey concrete floor is slightly ground back, to expose the aggregate, complemented by a large angular concrete form that serves as a coffee bar and waiting area.

Large terrazzo plinths are topped with leather coverings draped over steel rods to form bench seating at the black dining tables. A large window, white walls and high ceilings – also painted white – keep the space from feeling gloomy.

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A divider wall clad in perforated aluminum separates the main room from the kitchen and a private dining area, where black furniture and accessories give the room a moodier vibe. “Excellent interiors are masterful in light and shade, curating the subtle contrast of textures and materials,” the firm says. “Penta was certainly an exercise in all these things.”

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