In our previous post looking at great interior design for unusual spaces we explored the popularity of bike cafes. This week we are examining another clever combination of an activity with a coffee shop: the repair cafe. If you run a mending or repair business and want to up your income and attract new customers, adding a cafe space might be just the solution. And if your coffee shop is feeling a bit tired and needs a new spark, why not consider focussing it around what seems to be a growing trend?
So what exactly is a repair cafe?
Springing up all around the world, repair cafes are often part of the repaircafe.org umbrella group. This website offers advice on how to set up your own repair cafe, as well as how to find one near you. Venues (often community hubs, but also cafes) hold a monthly repair cafe where customers can bring electrical equipment and household objects that need fixing, and learn how to repair them. The idea is based around creating a more sustainable approach to consumption – throwing away less stuff, and mending things where possible. Some venues also host tool libraries and skills workshops to encourage people to hone their DIY and repair skills.
If this appeals to you, how do you turn your existing space into a repair cafe?
In terms of the interior design this would depend on whether you are converting an existing cafe or turning a community or retail space into a coffee shop with repair facilities. For existing cafes you need to consider installing a workbench where customers can work, and that is easily accessible by the person overseeing or advising them. There will be tools, wires and a fair bit of mess, so allocate a separate area of your cafe if you can – perhaps an awkward back room or basement.
Bespoke cafe tables might be a good option here, ensuring you can get the quality and durability you’ll need if they are being used as more than just eating and drinking surfaces. Lighting will need to be good so people can see what they are doing, so consider angled lamps as well as overhead lighting in areas where the repairs will be happening. Keep the whole space flowing by using table and bar positioning to allow your staff and customers to move comfortably around the cafe.
For a space that isn’t currently used as a coffee shop, you’ll need to start with working out how many tables you can comfortably fit in, what shape and size they’ll be, and whether you want fixed or moveable seating, or a combination of both. The food preparation and bar area needs to be optimally placed to display your products and brand message, as well as being easily accessible and near the necessary utilities. Choose a mixture of overhead lighting and lamps to make sure people can properly see to make their repairs. Allow space for a workbench or shared workspace which is separate from the main seating area. If you are hosting a tool library you need to find a storage place that’s accessible but not on show so you can keep things tidy.
Make the most of the uniqueness of what you’re offering in your branding and social media presence, tapping into the sustainability and transition-town market, as well as encouraging local people to give it a go. Ensure that you sell excellent food and drink so people will choose to come on the days when you aren’t running the repair workshops. Involve local artisans and tradespeople wherever possible so you can use their word-of-mouth contacts to get people talking about what you’re doing. Think about hosting out-of-hours specialised skills workshops.
If designing the interior of your repair cafe feels like a daunting task, get in touch and see how we can help fix it.