StudioA designer Tristan du Plessis's work on the new-look News Cafe Rosebank caught the judges’ attention at the 2016 Restaurant & Bar Design Award, presented in London recently, securing him top honors in the Middle East and Africa category out of some tough competition from the region.

New-look News Cafe Rosebank
New-look News Cafe Rosebank

News Cafe owner Lambros Argirys says: “We wanted a design that was urban and trendy just like our consumers. It needed to evolve from what we used to be, to a design that is relevant, sophisticated and vibey without losing who we are in the process.”

Du Plessis, who is also responsible for the popular Gemelli Cucina in Bryanston, Hell’s Kitchen in Melville and Arque champagne bar in Sandton City’s Diamond Walk, tells us about the award and fulfilling a challenging brief.

German Gymnasium (London, UK) by Conran & Partners
German Gymnasium (London, UK) by Conran & Partners

What were some of the main challenges you faced in taking News Cafe to the next level? I think the biggest challenge was creating a whole new look and feel whilst still maintaining a space that felt like the brand. It was important for the existing customers to feel a connection with the new look and attract new customers at the same time.

Which of the winning projects from other regions where the most stand-out for you and why? There were many but the German gymnasium in London was incredible and I was lucky enough to experience it for myself. It was inspiring to see the level of detail and quality of product that was used throughout the space.

What is the key ingredient(s) for successful hospitality environments? A successful hospitality environment is one that keeps the users of the space in mind. A design that considers how best to create an inspirational experience for the intended market rather than just being designed to look good.

How would you best describe your approach to design? My approach to hospitality design is to understand the intention of the space and brand, and create an experiential environment based that. My goal is to create a varied design portfolio with each project having a unique personality.

Describe the style of the new-look News Cafe? The News Cafe Rosebank is a space that caters for someone who wants to have breakfast in a stylish, inviting cafe but who also might come back to that same space for drinks in a glamorous bar when the sun sets. The look is a mix of honest materials: natural woods, copper, marble and handmade glass chandeliers. The space also has a connection to street art and the main bar has a mural hand chipped from plaster, adding an urban aesthetic to the space.

Will this become the new standard and be rolled out at other News Cafe sites? This level of design will be the new standard moving forward but each store will have its own unique features.

Here is a gallery of winners from other regions to put on your  2017 to-do list: 

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