For the sixth episode of The Keys, Andrew Kelly takes us through the interior design plans for his soon-to-open CBD venue Filter. Taking the cavernous shell of what was recently an internet cafe/convenience store, Andrew is faced with the challenge of creating a “warm and lovely” and, just as importantly, functional space for his Scandinavian-influenced cafe concept.

Along for the ride is Coda and Tonka co-owner Kate Bartholomew, one of the mentors for The Keys. Bartholomew collaborated with designers to create her two venues, re-awakening a passion for interior design she has held since before entering hospitality. “I love the process of what it is now and what it will look like in six months,” says Bartholomew as she walks around the empty space with Kelly.

Several months after inspecting the site for Filter, Kelly meets Bartholomew again at the Collingwood offices of DesignOffice, the company he has entrusted with the task of fitting out the venue. “The most compelling reason for working with DesignOffice was its immediate response to our brief,” says Kelly. “It was totally engaged, both on a food-and-coffee level and on a design level.” Along with DesignOffice co-director Mark Simpson, Kelly shows Bartholomew through a three-dimensional model for the new space, which will showcase the simple menu of filter coffee and Swedish smorrebrod open sandwiches using an unconventional twin counter configuration, which will act as both the serving and dining areas. The entrance to the cafe has been shifted, because, as Simpson explains, “by moving it onto the north side it really helped with the flow and the way the space is experienced”. Instead of the natural inclination to make the most of the large space, DesignOffice have created a perimeter screen to create, “a more intimate and tangible zone for the customer”, says Simpson. Bigger is not always better, especially for a venue designed with a focus on take away.

This is an enlightening episode for any business owner who is weighing up different options for fitting out their own space, as well as the rest of us who may not have considered the many ways in which the design of a space affects the way we experience it as customers. As the opening date of Filter looms, we look forward to the next episode of The Keys, which will show the venue in full operation.

Check out bankofmelbourne.com.au/thekeys for more small business operations and supply advice.