Notorious The memorabilia cafe
at Al Qana, Abu Dhabi

Inspired by 70’s design, Notorious is an immersive and exclusive experience in the form of a high-end cafe.

Our goal was to create a design for Notorious The Memorabilia Cafe to house their brand new concept, a space where the memorabilia and the coffee meet. Where the valuable memorabilia items and the people share time together allowing the potential customers to learn and get to know the fine pieces found in the shop.

Located at Al Qana Mall in a brand new entertainment and leisure complex adjacent to Abu Dhabi island, Notorious cafe is uniquely positioned to serve both residents and tourists. It is situated along the stunning Al Maqta canal, which gives it an amazing waterfront view. The concept of the brand is to create a space where memorabilia and coffee meet, with clients enjoy the various stories, and create bonds. Memorabilia are a storytelling medium, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for the cafe to shine and carve out its own place. Bringing together an interior design concept and merging it with the branding concept for the coffee shop has allowed us to create a unique presence in this particular business niche landscape.

Notorious Cafe conceptual approach

Coffee shop design has its own process, as it needs to implement both the aesthetic and identity of the brand, with pragmatical concerns, such as flows and seating, to achieve the best design. Our approach is to use interior design to both make a statement and tell the story of the brand, creating an experience that is emblematic of the brand identity. An interior design intertwined with branding is a strong competitive advantage for a coffee shop. The coffee shop’s interior space has been designed with a very specific concept in mind- to create a unique and immersive experience for the customer. This extends to the materiality and color palette used as well, seamlessly blending in with the brand concept and interior design.  It also gives the client the option between the interior and exterior, taking full advantage of the canal and promenade to create a connection between outside and inside.

The Notorious Memorabilia Cafe interior is inspired by the concept of 70s Americana combined with memorabilia, with each piece of furniture and decor telling a story. From retro coffee machines to classic vinyl, the aim is to create an environment that feels like a loved one’s living room – warm, inviting, and nostalgic. With its cozy atmosphere, Notorious is the perfect place to relax and take a break from the bustle of the city. The coffee shop has a relaxed and comfortable feel, with unique pieces of memorabilia on display. There are different areas to sit and relax in, including sofas and armchairs, as well as coffee tables. 

One of the primary goals we tackle at Notorious was to accommodate a wide variety of social interactions and personalities. The decor has been carefully chosen to reflect the 70’s theme, with colorful fabrics and patterns used throughout. The walls are adorned with interesting items, including old posters, paintings, and clocks. This concept becomes a brand within itself, giving the business the ability to stand out in a competitive and difficult market. Appealing not only to coffee enthusiasts but also to those who appreciate beautiful and interesting interior design, Notorious looks to become a popular spot for residents and visitors alike.

Implementation process

Notorious Cafe in Abu Dhabi covers around 160 square meters of space, split between 100 square meters of indoor space and 60 square meters of outdoor space. The generous floor-to-ceiling height of 5 meters allows the interior space to breathe and create a unique atmosphere. The ceiling height also frames the waterfront view, making it part of the interior design. The outdoor space is designed to be a relaxing oasis in the heart of the city, with soft seating creating an intimate setting. 

The design concept focuses on creating connections, from giving people something to discuss, whether it’s through the memorabilia or the coffee brewing process, to create an environment that fosters human connection and interaction. Interaction lies at the heart of the design, with the entire coffee brewing process put on full display. All of the equipment, as well as the materials used in the brewing process, is placed in direct view. This is part of the overall conceptual approach to the design. 

A large open space is designed where everyone can move and interact with one another in a dynamic and casual manner. Freshly roasted coffee beans and unique tea leaf blends will be displayed in the unit, allowing customers to sample and discover the unique offering of the cafe.

Outdoor Cafe design

The terrace is designed as an extension of the interior space, with a unified and coherent color palette and seating layout. The glazing connects the inside to the outside. From a layout perspective, the terrace uses a few types of seating layouts, including sofas, armchairs, and a long bench. The light color palette is designed to blend in with the exterior, with plants added to bring a touch of nature and green to the design. Finally, string lights are added in, wrapping the terrace design. The terrace works in conjunction with the interior design, creating the feeling of a single whole that transitions seamlessly.

Notorious Cafe closing thoughts

The interior concept features a combination of industrial materials, such as concrete and bricks, merged with industrial design elements, such as distressed walls and an open ceiling. This is then contrasted with wood and the warm light that shines through the glazing to create a warm atmosphere. The coffee shop opens up to the canal and promenade and features a large, operable glass façade that lets light in and also offers a view of the outside activity. The memorabilia takes center stage in the design. Finally, corrugated metal and brown leather are added as accents. The color palette uses mainly natural and raw colors. Bold touches of burgundy are carefully added in, which is the main color of the branding.

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