Kitayama K Architects create minimal cafe using American hard maple

Kitayama K Architects were called on to create interiors for Hunters’ Roots Café and Juice Bar in Melbourne, which aligned with the food philosophy of owners Jeffrey and Kerry Chew.

The owners wanted both striking and cosy interiors.

Responding to a brief for a modern, clean aesthetic, architect Kei Kitayama has created an interior inspired by wooden fruit crates used in an abstract form. The crates fill the spaces, creating an immersive, almost cave-like sculptural form, yet one that is produced from simple and straight geometric shapes. The result is a clean spatial experience.

The smart design also maximises the limited space by turning practical fixtures into decorative features. The lights, cupboards and shelving contribute to the design concept and sculptural visual.

Practical fixtures turned into decorative features.

A light, yet warm colour palette has been achieved by using American hard maple and Paulownia throughout the space, which has been further lightened with a lime wash. Some of the crates suspended from the ceiling double as light fittings, creating shadows that add depth and interest to the interior.

Paulownia hardwood was chosen for the crates suspended from the ceiling. The lightweight timber did not require additional steel structure and installation was relatively simple. However, the remaining joinery and lower crates are formed from American hard maple.

Practical fixtures turned into decorative features.

Kitayama was familiar with the robustness of hard maple from a previous project. It is a species that has a tight smooth grain and is popular for use in high traffic areas, most famously in basketball courts.

He says: “Our decision was to use an abstract form of timber crates, to avoid being too literal. We wanted to give the patrons a chance to decide what they represented. Are they fruit and vegetable crates or do they look more like fruit peels? It’s a playful concept.”

Joinery details add a very tactile and solid feel to space.

American hard maple

American hard maple has a creamy white sapwood with a slight reddish tinge, while the heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown. The percentage of white sapwood available varies according to the growing region. American hard maple is ideal for high-traffic flooring applications and is also used for furniture and joinery.

Joinery details add a very tactile and solid feel to space.

Street view of the Hunters’ Roots Café
Photo: Itsuka Studio.