The coffee house — a centuries-old institution in Vienna and the favorite place to rendezvous for a cross-section of society. Here beats the pulse of Austria’s capital. But what does the contemporary coffee house look like — fresh, yet timeless? Inviting by day and seriously cool at night? Delicious food and incredible drinks? Relaxation and culture combined? The new Café Kandl in Kandlgasse 12 in the 7th district shows us how it’s done! At the end of 2018, on learning that the aging Café Kandl, an outdated restaurant with garden in Vienna’s 7th district, had been abandoned, our client instantly recognized its potential and seized the opportunity. They rented the restaurant and started on a prompt refurbishment. The plan was a contemporary Viennese coffee house: timeless and yet exciting, a family-friendly café with delicious breakfasts and lunches by day, and the best cocktail bar in Vienna by night. But how to achieve these two completely different atmospheres? How to combine the classic and the modern? The IFUB* found the answer within the Café Kandl Twist, harnessing both the structurally immutable and the transformable to make the seemingly impossible, possible.
The structural twist: Two linear design elements divide three of the five square rooms into two very contrasting areas. The coffee house on the one side with its artistic oak parquet flooring and classic-yet-contemporary design turns the main seating area into a peaceful haven. The bar and the WCs on the other side counter this with exuberance and joie de vivre — the black and white ripples on the floor and exciting colors and materials are enough to make corks fly. And at the dividing lines, mirrors extend the space and blur boundaries... The atmospheric twist: A more flexible way of transforming the space. Whoever is in the café at 15:30 can experience it firsthand — this is when the bright and friendly café-restaurant becomes a cool, classy cocktail bar. The dark-red curtains behind the bar are drawn, closing the view to the kitchen and muting the noise. At the same time, the lights are dimmed and set to a color that invokes the evening atmosphere. Instead of fantastic food, there are now fantastic cocktails: The Café Kandl Twist — live and in color.
With its oak parquet floor and matching ash paneling and furniture, the main seating area is inspired by the classic coffee houses. The graphic patterns of the wood, in combination with the colored fabric of the curtains and upholstery, brings the necessary freshness to a well-established concept. The wood paneling design was derived from the new Cafe Kandl logo, and is not only visually appealing but also directs to the exits and to the WC. The coat hooks were also positioned to compliment the design. Encircling the main entrance, a curtain of thick yellow fabric protects against wind and noise from the outside. The graphic design reaches its peak with the mirrors: here we are met suddenly by the rotated square, which can also be found in other places. The centrally divided rooms and half squares thus become optically "whole" again.
The color and material concept of the main seating area uses warm colors for a cosy flair. Classically restrained and yet excitingly beautiful. Special attention was paid to durability, value, and feel, as well as the use of real materials. Sustainability also applies to interior design! For the freestanding furniture, oak-topped tables were custom made, with legs from ash and feet in galvanized steel. The stackable chairs — also in ash — were made by a Finnish manufacturer and fit perfectly into the overall design. The original windows were unfortunately no longer available and those in place were in poor condition. They were therefore exchanged for high-quality oak windows in an optic well suited to the building. Even when it came to privacy, nothing was left to chance: the interior shutters were also designed to match the overall concept.
It’s all happening behind the bar. At the perimeter, the square pattern in the parquet transforms into a black and white concentric circles. The heavy red curtain not only serves for pleasant acoustics: together with the green marble it also creates the perfect stage for the renowned bartenders and their famous drinks. Gleaming stainless steel and sparkling galvanized steel complete the picture.
The cooking takes place directly behind the window to the kitchen. Here, the culinary preparations are not kept secret, but are instead purposely advertised with the freshest of ingredients and tastiest recipes. If guests can see into the kitchen, it goes without saying that it must be more than just functional—it also has to be visually appealing. But the same goes for kitchen staff: it's easier to work well in beautiful spaces. That's why handmade square blue tiles edged in black complement the classic stainless-steel kitchen equipment.
The WCs are also located "behind a mirror" and are accordingly exciting in their design. In the entrance to the restroom, the concentric circles in black and white on the floor are combined with built-in WC cubicles and their bright yellow doors. The washstand is made of the same green marble as the bar: here too, the dark green provides a color contrast to complete the composition.
Café Kandl has hardly changed from the outside. Although there are new windows and doors together with a new entrance sign, the basic color scheme of the building has been purposefully retained.
After its complete renovation, the garden house shines in a new light. The interior walls were taken out, the windows and facade renovated, a new door was put in, a heating system was installed, and the roof was insulated and newly clad. The roof of the terrace room was painted pale pink, an echo of the blossoms of the courtyard’s large cherry tree. The color also harmonizes beautifully with autumn’s yellow foliage. The new room, with its myriad possible uses, is an ideal addition to future cultural offerings at Café Kandl.
The outdoor seating area at Café Kandl—in Austria these are known as Schanigarten—is a real jewel. The urban atmosphere, the shelter of the courtyard, large ancient trees, and to finish it off: a minimalist wooden deck and simple galvanized-steel furniture—roll on summer!