Coffee, Curves and Culture: Abu Dhabi’s Fil Florist and Café by Designsmith

Love the art of slowing down and savouring life’s offerings? Your wish is granted at our latest discovery—Fil Florist and Café in Abu Dhabi by Designsmith. The space promises much more than just a cup of joe! Every curve, every hue, and every detail of this boutique café unfolds like a love letter to the Earth.

A café—a place typically associated with sips of coffee, idle chatter, and a fleeting escape from the humdrum. But what if a café could be more? Fil Florist and Café, designed by the visionary team at Designsmith, intersects modern design sensibilities and cultural influences, offering café-goers a unique sensory experience. 

Parametric curves flirt with space while arches steal the limelight in this boutique cafe. Illumination adds drama and Mother Nature’s invited too. Weathered woods and untouched stones echo the earth’s authenticity. With earthy tones and nature-inspired materials, it’s like the desert stepped inside. Amidst Abu Dhabi’s pantheon of “Instagrammable” spaces, this boutique café carves an intimate connection between design, environment, and emotion.

The Brief

It all began with a vision – an Emirati client’s dream who owned a floral arrangements shop. Desiring to expand, the client’s dream was to transform the boutique into an experiential haven. A location adjoining the luxurious EDITION Hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Marina became the perfect space for this dream to unfold. This strategic setting, within a thriving residential community frequented by hotel guests and residents, promised a captivating space that would capture the essence of leisure and culinary delight.

The Outcome – A Riveting Regional Rendition

As if scripted by fate, Designsmith’s architectural philosophy resonated effortlessly with the client’s ethos. Design no longer confines itself to serving aesthetics alone. Instead, it emerges as a catalyst for emotional and physical well-being—a conduit to a balanced, positive environment.

Mihir Sanganee, Co-founder and Creative Director, Designsmith, adds, “At the core of our design philosophy is the belief that design is not just about objects; it is about enhancing the lives of the people who experience it.” This philosophy is beautifully showcased with the integration of regional influences into this contemporary retail and F&B concept. The café elements exude a sense of identity and belonging, creating an inviting atmosphere that resonates with visitors on a profound level.

Revisiting Arab Roots

The boutique’s theme speaks a dialect of its own – a blend of regional influence and contemporary innovation. The design dialogue draws from Al Ain and Fujairah’s architectural vernacular, a homage to bygone eras guiding present aspirations. Mihir shares, “The theme of the space is a blend of regional influences, neither strictly modern nor traditional. The materials, finishes, and colour palette all reflect an earthy regional style, with traditional patterns, rugs, and the Hajar landscape elements.”  Muted earth tones and muted hues summon the desert’s soul and the rugged landscapes, echoing the region’s very essence.

Crafting Arches, Nooks, and Wonder

Muted tones and textural subtlety greet you as you enter. Yet, the true protagonists are the arches—guardians of the café’s essence. The heart of the boutique’s design is a departure from the boxy convention—a symphony of organic, free-flowing shapes and clean lines. These dynamic forms create an atmosphere of playfulness and charm.

Notably, the curves in the design possess a dual purpose—they imbue movement and creative spaces, while simultaneously serving as furniture and load-bearing walls. Mihir adds, “Throughout the boutique’s interior, you can see hand-crafted arched niches and parametric curves and fenestrations framing different views of the boutique.” Arches, niches, and doorways play a pivotal role, offering aesthetic intrigue and clever storage solutions, all intricately crafted by local artisans using locally sourced materials.

A Sensory Sojourn Through the Café

The journey for visitors begins as they approach the cafe either through a serene promenade or the yard. Alternatively, for those arriving from the adjacent hotel, a dedicated drop-off zone offers a seamless entry point. As visitors step into Fil Florist and Café, they witness the welcoming sight of the outdoor covered seating.

Entering through the doors, the first visual spectacle is a bespoke hostess desk guiding visitors into the heart of the space. Adjacent to this, the floral counter stands out with its mesmerizing organic and sinuous design. The counter offered a transparent view into the chiller room, proudly displaying the finest imported blooms.

Traversing further, Mihir explains, “Tucked away inside, there is a speciality coffee counter with niche displays serving as the point of sale for the cafe.” Asked about their most enjoyable aspect, the designers shared, “We particularly enjoyed designing the main sunken seating area, with its step-down layout and graceful curves. The profile of the organic design and the parametric curves presented an exciting and challenging aspect of the project.”

Nature’s Palette Inside the Cafe

Beyond its visual allure, the boutique’s design considers sustainability as a fundamental aspect. Natural light, gently filtered through strategic glazing, caresses the interior, dramatically reducing the need for artificial illumination. To complement this aesthetic, the design opts for earthy materials—reclaimed woods and unfinished stones—eschewing the cold embrace of modern elements. As daylight fades, track lights suspended above tables create intimate pools of light, while uplights along the walls infuse the space with a soft, celestial glow.

Crafted with an eye for the minutest detail, the café’s furnishings are not mere appointments but chapters in an unfolding story. Each element is carefully chosen to align with the cafe’s elemental ethos. Purposeful accessories such as rugs, pillows, throws, upholstery, and vases add depth, guiding the visitor’s gaze in a tactile journey.

The colour and material palette serves as an ode to the region’s earthy spirit. Muted earthy browns, reminiscent of the desert’s sandy landscapes and rugged terrains, form a bridge between the natural environment and the interior. This grounded palette weaves an intimate connection with nature.

For Those Who Crave More Than Just a Latte

This café isn’t just for coffee lovers; it’s for anyone who craves an experience that’s as enriching as the brew itself. Whether you’re a design enthusiast looking to soak in every curve, a culture buff yearning for a slice of Emirati heritage, or simply someone who wants to unwind in a space that feels like a warm hug – Fil Florist and Café has a spot waiting just for you. This is a café where your coffee is enjoyed not just with your taste buds, but with your entire being.

Mihir sums the experience beautifully, “Every single person who’s walked in has a lasting impression of the high volume, the parametric arches and the mellow feel. While many have tried capturing this on Instagram or social media, nothing compares to the warm hospitality of the staff and the overall ambience it creates.”

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Date added:

16 August, 2023

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