On our recent trip to Armenia, we stumbled across some stunning coffee shops in the country’s capital. Located in Yerevan, two, in particular, caught our eye: Afrolab Roastery and Sweet Coast. Aside from the huge variety of cakes, coffee, and desserts, it was the intuitive interiors that stole our hearts. Here’s a closer look at the designs and inspiration behind these impressive interiors.
Afrolab Roastery is part of the Collective, a trio of restaurants in Yerevan founded by Artak Harutyunyan. As soon as you step inside, Armenia’s rich artisan heritage is apparent. The designer of the space has clearly tried to incorporate wooden pieces that have a hand-crafted feel. As a result, there’s a rustic and homely ambiance from the circular light fittings made from woven brown yarn to plenty of exposed wood. This is further enhanced by the distressed walls and warm glowing lights. Together, this creates a cozy atmosphere with a slightly tropical vibe.
However, the space is also extremely minimalistic and contemporary, with a delicate balance between modern and traditional design. The countertop is sleek and white, and the use of hanging shelves and paneled glass brings the interior into the present day. The designer has stuck with a neutral color pallet of brown, green, and white to channel feelings of nature. Biophilic design is an up-and-coming interior design trend, and the use of these natural colors and exposed materials go hand-in-hand with this current craze.
One of the highlights of the space has to be the statement wooden ceiling. The designer has used multiple wooden beams aligned in parallel to cover the ceiling. By positioning lights between some of the wood panels, interesting patterns of light and shade appear, which draws your attention upward. The mirrored glass above the takeaway coffee bar also adds another dimension and plays with the light from outside. All in all, this is one of the best coffee shop designs we’ve stumbled upon on our travels.
Another must-see for anyone searching for the best coffee shop design is Sweet Coast, designed by local creators from Electric Architects. It has a unique and authentic style, inspired by Yerevan architect Jim Torosyan’s work around the city following an earthquake in 1988. It draws inspiration from one of the city’s most infamous landmarks: the Cascade. The Yerevan Cascade is a giant limestone staircase in the center of the city. It links the downtown Kentron neighborhood with the monument area and has a buzzing atmosphere. From open-air concerts to youths gathering for drinks on the colossal steps, the Cascade is the heart and soul of Yerevan. It is a true representation of the modern art that the area is so popular for.
Having taken inspiration from this iconic landmark, it’s clear why Sweet Coast is an art lover’s delight. The coffee bar is limestone just as the Cascade steps, nicely tying the interior of the café to the city in which it sits. The wall behind the coffee bar is made of tall archways, comparable to the arches used in the architectural design of the staircase. We noticed the use of arches in many buildings in Yerevan, reminiscent of ancient Armenian architecture.
As with Afrolab Roastery, the designers of Sweet Coast have used an intoxicating fusion of modern and traditional styles. The coffee shop is actually inside an old Soviet building. The industrial interior and concrete walls have been left as they were. However, partnering these unfinished elements with wooden pieces and warm lights adds softness to the space. The high ceilings and large paneled windows flood the room with light. It helps to transform the coffee shop into a light yet relaxing destination.
The theme of woodwork is seen consistently throughout the design. Let your gaze travel up, and you’ll see a woven ratan-style statement ceiling. Hanging from another part of the room is a giant bee carved from light wood. Artistic woodworking is a millennium-old tradition in Armenia. The use of such pieces in the design draws on the country’s history and culture while boosting the space’s aesthetic appeal.