Southampton City Art Gallery Café Design

My latest University project was to design a café for Southampton City Art Gallery. Southampton City Art Gallery is internationally renowned for its permanent collection which features around 5,000 works. These span eight centuries and tell the story of western art from the Renaissance to the present day. The core of the collection is twentieth century and contemporary British art.

(Credit: Expedia)

Our brief was to design a cafe space for both the upstairs art gallery and the downstairs space. The cafe is aimed at bringing younger people and families into the gallery, so it has to be quite quirky and fun. The Art Gallery is a grade II* listed building, meaning we cant touch the walls upstairs (apart from the pillars), change the floors or put in any additional lighting upstairs.


First, I was given the floorplans (they are not as horrible as they look!) to start building the space in Vectorworks.

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Next, I came up with my concept, ‘Modern Coastal’. ‘Modern’ refers to Mid century modern furniture and ‘Coastal’ refers to the sandy creams and mint greens that have been taken from the architecture of the building.

Cafe concept board 3(My own image)

I then looked for paints, tiles, fabrics and surfaces and created a materials board:

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 16.16.37(My own image)

The materials I used are listed below:

  1. Crown Metallic Emulsion- ‘Striking’
  2. Topps Tiles- White Metro Tile
  3. Tile Mountain- Metro Glass Green Wall Tile
  4. Chieftain Fabrics- ‘Sable’ Lionella
  5. Chieftain Fabrics- ‘Glacier’ Lionella
  6. Worktop Express- Walnut Worktop
  7. Harlequin- Eglomise Wallpaper ‘Gold’

After building the space in Vectorworks (which took 8 agonising weeks!) I had to create and add the furniture in SketchUp, then put them into the space.

Below are my designs for downstairs:

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 16.17.20I decided to use the corner of the library for the café as it has a lot of natural light and was being used for book returns and had a few chairs dotted around.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.43.01I placed the servery in the corner (next to the door) so it is visible as you walk in. Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.42.48I made use of the large windows by placing a bar-style table against them with upholstered bar stools. This would be the perfect area for students to take books out and study or do work on their laptops. Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.43.21I have used different types of seating to create zones. This part of the cafe would be perfects for families.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.43.37I have used the cake stands and baskets to bring the colours from my colour scheme into the café.

Here are my visualisations for upstairs:

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Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.45.25Here is an overview of the space. I have tucked the servery into the pillars for easy access. Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.42.30Here you can see how I decided to arrange the furniture within the space. I have allowed room between the furniture to allow wheelchair and pushchair access. All of the furniture is curved to compliment the curves of the arches and domes.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.44.54I have created a curved servery to reflect the curves of the arches, I think corners would be to harsh in the space.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 19.02.22The straws in the jar add a quirky, playful touch to the scheme. Hopefully, the stands of cakes and cookies will catch childrens eyes!Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.44.42I decided to use the curved dome to its full advantage by creating a bespoke bench seat which echoed the curve. The stripes on the chair mirror the panels on the wall.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.42.12The feet of the beautiful mid century table bring gold into the colour scheme and echo the gold frames used in the gallery.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 18.45.06The fence pot on the table also adds a playful touch and contains a pot of coloured pencils for children to use.

Let me know what you think in the comments ↓↓

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Eve x




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