Café Kawa & Garo, Montréal

Smith Vigeant Architectes Inc., Montréal

Photography by Jack Jerome

As is a common refrain for family-run restaurants, interior design budgets are notoriously small. But that didn’t impede the design firm from finding ways to take a minimum number of elements and employ them for maximum effect. A generously fenestrated façade floods the room with natural light, making visible from outside the colourful diamond-pattern mosaics, a modern reinterpretation of Kabyle craftsmanship unfolding from floor to walls. A long glossy service counter of glass and white laminate highlights both the geometric patterns and traditional Algerian pastries and small dishes prepared on site. Cultural references include modern brass lights that recall the shape of oil lamps from Maghreb souks, and coloured mesh panels, similar to a moucharabieh, create spatial boundaries between different sections of the cafe without completely closing off the space. Playing on contrasts, the dining area is made up of natural oak benches and tables and “floating” seats for easy maintenance.