Designer Hana Hakim of The Stella Collective hopes the food and design at Middle Eastern café Naim will inspire curiosity and help bridge cultural divides.
September 13th, 2018
At 55 square metres, Naim is a small Middle Eastern café in Brisbane, but its cultural impact is hoped to be far bigger than its diminutive size. The owners engaged Hana Hakim, founder of The Stella Collective, to design the café, as they both share Syrian heritage. “Food and design to me are the greatest cultural bridges,” says Hana. “I wanted to create a space that gives a peek into Syrian and Islamic architecture, and to bring a very special message about Syria into the light.”
The brief was to celebrate Middle Eastern design with a modern take. Hana drew inspiration from cherished memories with her family in Aleppo, Syria, remembering the ancient city’s internal courtyards, bountiful oasis, elaborate geometric tiling and hole-in-the-wall tea houses.
“This concept was very personal to me. Aleppo was so beautiful and one of the places left in the world where the spirit and generosity of the people were truly arresting,” Hana explains. “Naim is designed with love for Syria. It is an interior tinged with nostalgia and hope.”
All elements fit neatly within the small footprint of the café to maximise natural light and space. The serving area is just wide enough for benchtop display and food storage, and to allow space for banquette seating along the opposite wall and next to the windows. The light-coloured palette also enhances and reflects natural light. “The palette was derived through soft texture and symmetry, which are the backbone of Syrian architecture,” says Hana.
Custom tiles with refined geometric patterning are a modern interpretation of arabesque tiles. The traditional geometric designs combine repeated squares and circles in intricate and complex patterns, which Hana has pared back into a subtle, randomised display.
Tadelakt, a plaster technique, meaning to “rub in” in Berber, brings a sense of depth and texture to the walls, as do the rattan backrests. And the green-tiled floor and plants evoke the bountiful oasis, while mirrors reflect natural light and blackened steel features contrast with the Tadelakt and tiles, adding definition.
“As designers, we need to design like we give a damn. I truly believe design can bring people together and help communities on a global scale,” says Hana.
“The more the Western world gets to experience the Middle East’s food and culture, the more curious they will be about it and maybe they will start to raise questions about what is happening to people over there and how they can help.”
Get inspired by design every week. Sign up for our newsletter.
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
For Living Edge, B-Corp certification was the next appropriate step in a long journey focused on building a truly sustainable and socially responsible business. In 2023 they achieved certification at their first pass, giving customers a new level of environmental assurance and the company an important milestone to celebrate across two decades of staff-led, sector-leading sustainability practices.
Putting their money where their perfectly painted mouth is, MECCA diverted almost 4 tonnes of furniture from landfill during the recent renovation of its headquarters with the help of Living Edge’s Relive program.
Australia’s leading producer of solid-engineered oak flooring has recently launched a new suite of innovative resources to support creativity and ambition in the architecture and design community.
Guided by three experienced architects with unique personal stories, EM BE CE is a young practice on the rise in Sydney. Timothy Alouani-Roby met the directors to find out about their collaborative studio culture.
Kate Ockwell, interior design associate at Plus Architecture, comments on the four ideas hoteliers, restaurateurs and their interior designers should be considering when designing their spaces.
Woods Bagot has breathed new life into Sydney’s historic Transport House, fashioning it into a dynamic workplace complete with its very own bar.
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
The Victorian Heart Hospital by Conrad Gargett plus Wardle has won The Health and Wellbeing Space at the 2023 INDE.Awards. It sets a new design agenda where patient and staff wellbeing is central to function and form.
INDE.Award-winning studio, HAS Design and Research, may be young but its projects reflect a talent far beyond its practice years. Its vision translates into a new and beautiful reality designed to stimulate mind, body and soul.
This year’s Saturday Indesign was bigger and better than ever before! Alongside the partying and networking, a series of panel talks on the hot topics in design provided insight and inspiration for the whole day.