Coffee’s up!

Design / Life

This little Guildford cafe is throwing down the gauntlet for both style and substance, artfully inspired by a mid-century diner.

Newly opened Willing Coffee in Guildford is more than just your average neighbourhood coffee vendor. The café achieves volumes within a petite space, where every nook is carefully considered and eminently beautiful. Fabric chatted to interior designer Jen Lowe at Ohlo Studio and café owner Tim Willing about the project.













What was the over-arching design concept for Willing Coffee?

JL: The brief from owners Tim and Veronique was for a classic Italian-inspired cafe designed like a jewellery box. It was to bring Tim’s love for competition cycling and coffee together. The design details were largely informed by research at the concept design phase into early industrial designs from the 50s and 60s and vintage cycle styling.

This era was the beginning of industrial design as a profession and, in the post war world, mechanical equipment was being designed to be more appealing in a household environment. Manufacturers wanted to appeal to women in order to get their products into homes. Thus, there was a fluidity or softness in many of the designs. Later, designs also became influenced by the space age and had a clear ‘tech’ vibe.

It is this contrast between ‘tech’ and curvaceousness that informed our design. We looked more specifically at Italian mid-century diners as a way to combine classic Italian and mechanical references; drawing inspiration from a period in design that was rich with possibility.


What were the challenges involved in the project?

JL: The challenge at Willing Coffee was to accommodate the client’s extensive list of the ‘must haves’ into a small space… but we did it! The venue is intentionally tight on seating, increasing familiarity, but the display areas hold a clean aesthetic.


So what is special or unique about the fit out?

JL: The counter is formed from folded stainless steel wrapping a Persian Red Travertine front. We chose to use natural stone on the front of the counter to add a soft, natural dimension to the venue and maintained stainless steel on all the work surfaces. In this way the small venue looks less cluttered through the consistency of steel surfaces and retains a functional, technical feeling in contrast to soft finishings and curved lines of the seating area.


What “look” have you achieved in the space?

JL: A warm, sharp, crisp and inviting neighbourhood cafe.


What do you think it is about the fit out that will have Guildford locals making it their regular?

JL: Tim and Veronique have a great passion and great taste in journals. We designed a beautiful case that is kept stocked with up-to-date international reads that will keep locals entertained while they are enjoying the best coffee in Guildford.


What was it like working with Tim and Veronique, who had their own vision for the space, too?

JL: They both had very clear ideas about what they wanted in the space, which made for a good start, and we developed a very open relationship – trust plays a huge part in the outcome of any design.


What do you really LOVE about the result?

JL: The combination of two different aesthetics sitting together in harmony.


And Tim, how is Willing Coffee focused on knocking the socks off Perth’s discerning coffee drinkers?

TW: We have state-of-the-art coffee machines with Perth’s leading baristas behind them. One of our guys, Mitch, is a Q-grader – which is a qualification for coffee makers of an international standard – so if he’s on you can expect something very special indeed.  We have West Perth roaster Mano a Mano as a staple and a revolving line up of superb Australian roasters like Mecca from Sydney and Everyday from Melbourne, along with international roasters including Norway’s Tim Wendleboe and Denmark’s Le Cabra. Filter-specific single origins from featured roasters will be on regular rotation, and customers can buy beans to take home and enjoy.


What about the food to go with it?


TW: The food on offer is a highly considered yet unpretentious, from house baked croissants, soft boiled eggs on sourdough and homemade granola, crostata and toasties to delicious ricotta on toast with honey and nuts, the food items are artfully presented in a sliding, jewellery box-style display with angled mirrors allowing customers to view all the options from all angles.


Visit Willing Coffee at 110 Terrace Road, Guildford. Open Mon to Fri 6.30am–4.00pm and Sat to Sun 7am–4.30pm.