Kafkaf: a sustainable coffee bar with Middle Eastern ambiance


Kafkaf’s goal? To create a photogenic, “instagrammable” gathering place characterised by attention to detail and a contemporary Middle Eastern touch. Their dream was masterly and sustainably realised by Paris-based design studio Fairly, together with UNILIN Panels. A few months after the grand opening, the coffee bar is packed and Kafkaf boasts an online community of 15,000 followers.

“Whoever walks through Kafkaf’s door has to feel like they’ve travelled to Tunisia – without running into cliches”, explains Adeline Paty, co-founder of design studio Fairly, along with her partner, Gwenaëlle Lebouc. Kafkaf, a coffee bar located in the 11th arrondisement of Paris, offers ‘every day and all-day brunch’, with fresh, high-quality products.

Photographer : Benoît Florençon

“We were inspired by our customers’ Tunisian origins. We used a few small, original Middle Eastern details in the interior: the evil eye protection symbol, for example, which we delivered in the form of neon and mirrors. Another example: the Middle Eastern floral decoration above the host’s table. Together with Hélène Legay we determined Kafkaf’s identity as a cosy and convivial place.

With attention to colour and material

To create this titillating universe, Fairly played with materials and colours. “Everything had to be connected – that’s the heart of the concept”, Adeline Paty continues. “The colours of the coffee maker and other decorative accessories are in the same hues as the facade. Terracotta-rose comes up again in again in different places and surfaces, and on the skirting boards and some chairs, you’ll find black accents. The pièce de resistance? The famous Majorelle blue, which contrasts with the rest of the interior and gives Kafkaf its unique identity.”

Photographer : Benoît Florençon

The same applies to the choice of materials. “The terrazzo pattern of the floor can also be found on the menus and cups. The bisque tiles of the counter are reminiscent of the locations’ rounded benches, and the base of the counter, table legs and lighting are all fashioned in brass.”

Launched without a definitive location

“Even before the final location was determined, we had to develop the concept and select the materials and furniture”, continues Adeline Paty. “That was an interesting exercise: we had the opportunity to start from the very essence of the project without getting lost in site-specific challenges. That ultimately made our choices stronger and more radical. Of course, we did fine-tune the concept to the location once it was found, for example, by incorporating a number of existing elements like the natural stone walls and patinated cast-iron pillars.”

Photographer : Benoît Florençon

The owner of Kafkaf wanted to create a comfortable place that also met strict sustainability requirements concerning siding and furniture. “For example, the bar and counter had to remain easily accessible so that they could be dismantled quickly and easily if the equipment broke down.”

To create this unique, harmonious and sense-intriguing universe, we played with materials, a well-defined colour palette, lighting and textures.

- Adeline Paty, co-founder of Fairly

Majorelle blue? Sublime!

Another challenge? Finding a shade for the counter and bar doors that was as close as possible to Majorelle blue. “We scoured the market and ended up with Persian Blue from UNILIN Evola”, Adeline Paty says.

Photographer : Benoît Florençon

“Laminate or melamine are clearly optimal solutions in terms of high resistance and low maintenance. UNILIN products stand out – their high-quality finish differentiates them from the solutions of other suppliers. The matte surface – very important, given the rich, blue hue – make a key difference. Fingerprints aren’t visible, and it’s exactly what we were looking for in terms of look and feel… it’s perfect!

“We found truly original colour cards at UNILIN Panels, even for small orders, which gave us a lot of creative freedom. The icing on the cake: despite COVID-19, we received our order according to plan.”

A fruitful and responsible collaboration

Why UNILIN panels? Adeline Paty: “The most important reason was, of course, that perfect blue hue. It was precisely what we wanted. In addition, my partner and I always recommend solutions to our customers that have the smallest-possible CO2 footprints. During a visit to UNILIN’s production site in Belgium, we were impressed by the company’s global, sustainable approach – particularly their use of recycled wood in panels. For a company named ‘Fairly’, that means something!”

“Last but not least: UNILIN’s service levels go above and beyond. From the prescription phase all the way to order follow-up, construction and realisation: UNILIN Panels assists their customers from A to Z.”

Are you also interested in getting started with the UNILIN Evola collection? Order your free sample card now.

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