Venerable Melbourne-based roaster and retailer Market Lane Coffee has operated a brick-and-mortar cafe just outside the sprawling Queen Victoria Market since 2009, but that didn’t stop Market Lane from opening a new shop inside the market earlier this year after a prime corner space that had housed a pharmacy for the past 40 years came open.
Despite the heavy foot traffic location inside the Dairy Hall section of the sprawling fresh food market, space was limited and awkwardly defined by the corner. So the design challenge involved creating a functional and visually engaging retail area that also respected the existing materials, including abundant nickel paneling, white wall tiles and marble facade panels.
For design help, Market Lane turned to Sarah Trotter of Melbourne’s Hearth Studio, who also helped lead the design of ML’s Faraday St. bar.
The design team kept in tact and refurbished the rich materials of the external facades while restoring and adding new, matching white tiles to the existing interior walls. Large, dropped lights from the ceiling reflect off the white interior tiles to create the perception that the space is glowing. Main joinery elements within the space introduce new marble countertops and natural wood surfaces to support retail displays of bagged coffees and brewing equipment, while also providing functional work spaces for baristas.
A brew bar on a central island helps to visually separate customers from back-of-the-house elements and waste disposal areas without the use of traditional partitions and dividers that would otherwise diminish the openness of the already small space. Through the use of freestanding joinery, the processes of grinding, pourover brewing and serving coffee are all forward-facing.