CMD+A’s work for African coffee brand Cafe Neo is a great example of merging branding and architecture. The architects delivered a modern interior fit-out for the Cafe Neo outlet in LaFayette mall, Ikoyi, that makes use of colour, material and style to translate the character of the brand into the 35 sq m space.

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Cafe Neo, as a brand, represents a modern and vibrant approach to celebrating Africa’s coffee heritage, akin to the American Starbucks or CoffeeBean. As such, CMD+A were able to create a contemporary space that doesn’t feel “borrowed” from Western design, but, integrates contemporary trend and style with a subdued African vibe to it.

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The minimalist plywood tables and benches wear a Black Afara Veneer which compliments the more contemporary white Eiffel dining chairs. The counter top also carries a similar aesthetic making use of a black metal frame clad with wooden planks as well as expanded wire mesh. The Blackboard and chalk offer a less technical feel and do well to humanise the brand and make the space a little more amiable.

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Intergrating art into the space was also a nice touch. This invariably creates the opportunity to promote local art and artists adding even more to both the shop and the brand.

Two things endear me to this project. Firstly, I like the fact that Cafe Neo is an indigenous brand taking on what is proving to be a lucrative industry on the continent. Secondly, I like what CMD+A have been able to create for Cafe Neo, as a brand. This small coffee shop is artsy, simple, well designed and well finished offering the perfect ambiance for the city’s coffee lovers.

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