Skinny Legs

Simple Sophistication in the Heart of De Waterkant

27 FEBRUARY 2019


Step inside the Cape’s newest member of the Skinny Legs Luxury Café family – where simple flavours and pared-back design blend together in a beautiful fusion.

Food enthusiasts and design aficionados agree that the new Skinny Legs Luxury Café, located in the trendy suburb of De Waterkant, Cape Town, presents a beautifully refreshing union between old and new. The ground floor of this iconic Jarvis Street heritage building has been reinvented into an inspired gathering place for people to celebrate unpretentious cuisine and minimalist interior design.

Aidan Bennetts and his team of dedicated designers from AB Design were called upon to conceptualise this striking lunchtime eatery, in keeping with the design aesthetic of the sister-restaurant located in Loop Street, Cape Town.

“We worked together with Aidan to find the best solution for everyday practicality as well as creating a good-looking environment for our customers to be in,” explain the owners, mom and daughter team, Deirdre and Donnet Dumas. The brief was therefore to design and materialize a simple, sophisticated eatery where the public could come to enjoy scrumptious lunchtime fare in the city.

Design Challenges:

The new restaurant posed several design challenges, the first being the actual size of the commercial space. With limited floor space, the restaurant would need to house a fully functioning kitchen, barista area and seating. The brief was to maximise the small space without losing the integrity of the building and its classic architectural features. It also needed to remain aligned with the elegant ambience created by Maison Mara, a boutique fashion store located upstairs.

“The space is very small, possibly one of the smallest restaurants you would come across”.

Aidan Bennetts, Creative Director of AB Design, explains, “The space is very small, possibly one of the smallest restaurants you would come across”. As such, many of the interior elements needed to be custom-made to exact specifications in order to fit the space. According to the owners, efficient use of space was a priority. Successfully trouble-shooting the layout with the design team ensured that the right solutions were chosen and that the overall design achieved balance for staff and patrons alike.

The result is a layout that showcases a natural flow from the outside through to the heart of the restaurant. Round DeeDee tables were especially designed by Aidan and the seating area was made to extend outside onto the cobbled pavement, thereby enhancing the refreshing indoor-outdoor ambience of the café.

Simple and Sophisticated:

Each design element was selected on the basis that it added to the minimalist elegance of the restaurant. The hope was to achieve a simple and sophisticated space that could be enjoyed by the public. As such, all the design choices are pared-back and minimal with a focus on detail and finishing.

Some of the interior highlights include:

  • A new ceiling provides a facelift: The ceiling was previously covered in tatty old bamboo cladding, so this was stripped out and a new skimmed ceiling inserted with modern LED downlights.
  • Sublime repurposed flooring: Inherited Turkish inspired polychrome tiles bring a level of vibrancy in colour and pattern to the space.
  • Slate stone walls: The original interior stone walls were kept intact as a part of the beautifully restored historical building. It simply required a clean up and some preservation to enhance the natural qualities of the stonework. In the end, it is a wonderful addition to the completed space, bringing a depth of richness in tone and texture, as well as an earthiness and unrefined elegance to the eatery. Juxtaposed against white finishes, the stone walls become a beautiful feature here.
  • A sophisticated, clean palette: All the finishes work together to create an elegant design aesthetic. A terrazzo solid stone top was added to the barista area, with some French-inspired panel cladding to the counter fronts in order to achieve a clean and interesting palette.
  • Eclectic seating: The selection of mixed wooden seats adds a quirky vintage element to the design and further acta as a nod to the main branch on Loop Street.

According to the owners, the real highlight lies in the essence of the space. “The team managed to create a place that has its own unique character, while still holding firmly onto the Skinny Legs aesthetic.”

In the end, Skinny Legs Luxury Café offers a wonderful blend of classic and modern; historic and contemporary. The design is fresh and appealing, the food is packed with elegant flair, and the café takes on a wonderfully modern European feel with a hint of quaint history.