80’s café culture

Melbourne’s café culture

80’s Colour Palette

Creative investigation

From my research, I have found that Melbourne laneway cafes use dim lighting to create a cosy, relaxed atmosphere. Furniture placement to create zones, artwork and greenery were all popular choices. The cafes also made use of the industrial features such as exposed beams and pipework. Materials used were, stainless steal, timber and artificial light, as there isn’t a lot of natural light.

Chalkboards, concrete or timber floors, stools and pendent lights were also a popular. All surfaces need to the meet the food and beverage act requirements, this will have to be considered.

The high ceilings, rendered walls, and concrete floors are all industrial features of the building, colour will need to be considered carefully, such as warms whites, greys, to open up and brighten the space. Creating an open light spacious area.

Furniture will give the café colour and interest, making it lively and fun and vibrant as requested by the client.

The 80’s era was all about colour as shown above. The early 80’s were more pastel tones, such as peach, apricots, creams, light greys, and aqua. The late 80’s were more about rock and disco, with bright bold colours and fluoro, geometric shapes.

Bright neon lights were also a popular choice in the 80’s floor and ceiling lights were used to create bright, fun vibrant disco and bars.

International interior designer Mary Gilliantt was popular in the 80’s; her books are full of photographs and useful home decoration ideas and designs. They are still popular today with great inspiration ideas.

Research into compliance

As the client must follow all safety requirements under the Australian safety act AS-1319 1994. The café must follow these guild lines:

  • Signs should not be placed together, it maybe confusing to customers.
  • Signs should be placed at the observer’s line of sight. For an average standing adult this is 5 degrees up or down from 1.5metres above the ground level.
  • For maximum effectiveness, safety signs should be maintained in good condition, kept clean and well illuminated.
  • Where practical, safety signs should be mounted close to the observer’s line of sight in the vertical plane.
  • Safety signs should be located against a contrasting background, and such that the possibility of it becoming obscured by stacked materials or other visual obstructions is minimised.
  • It is recommended that any symbols be at least 15mm per metre of viewing distance, and any uppercase text be at least 5mm per metre of viewing distance. This should be increased by at least 50% for poor lighting or viewing conditions.

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Colour wheel

I have chosen this pastel palette combination

The colours work well together and compliment each other. Pinks, peaches and Mauves were all popular colours in the 80’s. Patterns were also a popular choice, giving the soft colours interest and giving the 80’s era its distinct recognition. Pendant lights in soft pastels would be a great way of lighting up this dark environment.

Bright and bold Colour scheme

Bright bold colours are instantly recognised with the 80’s era. These primary colours are fun, vibrant and really liven up any dark space. The bold colours are in contrast to each other, making them “pop” colours. Bright red, yellow and blues work well together, we associate these colours with famous classic 80’s memorabilia the rubix cube.

Industrial Urban

The industrial urban palette is black, grey, timber and tans. This colour palette works well together, complimenting the industrial wear house environment. The 80’s era brought the out doors indoors with greenery. Plants were popular, high ceilings are perfect for illuminating with bright fluoro coloured lights. The patterned floor rug is a classic 80’s geometric pattern. Metal wire chairs are also a classic 80’s furniture choice. The use of timber for bench tops, stainless steel and chrome, all hard surfaces to create the industrial feel. Mirrors would be ideal to bounce light around, giving the illusion of more space.

Effects of different lighting




Concept board


I will apply these colours to the client’s preference and to best fit the brief.

My recommendation is to have a light colour, such as Antique Dulux white on the walls and ceiling, using blue neon lights to brighten and light up the ceiling. I would use geometric pattern, of bright bold triangle’s to create a feature wall. Pendent lights over the counter and in desired areas. I would use aluminium coloured stools. A zigzag black and white patterned floor rug, with a coloured floor rug to help create zones. I would have “Nat’s” in neon blue lights, on the feature wall. Creating a fun, lively vibrant space, with a retro feel.

Feedback from others

After receiving feedback from others, reflecting on area’s of improvement. My feedback was positive, successfully meeting the brief and clients requirements. The colour palette was suitable for the brief, a fun, vibrant feel with an 80’s twist.

I always referred back to the brief if I was unsure, and looked at all different options available. Involving everyone that was part of the work process, discovering new exciting idea’s for the best cost effective options for my client. The final result was fantastic, exceeding the client’s expectations.

Communication was vital during my design process, always keeping my team up to date and making sure deadlines were met. This kept the project running smoothly, with only minor minimal unforseen problems that may occur.

Making sure safety regulations are always followed for safe work practices makes for a happy smooth running work place. Hazards can occur on site, with electrical, fire and water. Making sure that all staff onsite, are wearing the correct safety equipment, earplugs, goggles, hard hats. Making sure all individuals know where the first aid is, a fire blanket and fire extinguisher.

Environmental hazards such as correct waste bins for rubbish and waste materials are all followed correctly at all times. This will reduce environmental impact and be cost effective.

Areas for improvement, my contact resource list which is always growing, with the more experience I gain.

Part A – What do I need to achieve?

  • A lively fun and vibrant space
  • Different light sources
  • Bright colours to open up the dark space separate areas
  • 80’s retro feel, the colours in this era were bright blues, pinks yellow and fluro colours were popular choices
  • Safety signs must remain visible at all times e.g Fire extinguishers, emergency exit signs.

What do I need to know?

  1. What’s the time frame for the project?
  2. Budget?
  3. The 80’s era was all about colour,bold, pastel and fluro, What’s your preference?
  4. Have a look at these photo’s, tell me what style you like? If you don’t like any, could you show me what you had in mind?
  5. Furniture- colours, style scale and size?
  6. Lights- floor, ceiling, upward, downward to high light different features e.g pipework, beams

Work Flow

  • Meet with the client to conduct the initial  design brief, budgets,time frames expectations
  • Site visit – Measurements, safety, electrical floor plan, floor plan layout. Meet any contractors to discuss any issues and concerns. Discuss time frames, email all involved with updates and changes and details.
  • Research clients requirements-brief requirements, confirm furniture, lighting, contractors timeframes
  • Daily up dated blog as requested by the client 30min
  • Hours of operation – site access
  • Visual samples/concept boards/materials board 30min digitally
  • Email all involved with any concerns/issues that may have arisen, communicate with team regularly
  • Meeting to exchange contracts 1hour
  • Work to proceed ,timetable of works signed with specific works to be carried out by due dates 4-12wks

What do I need to do for the project?

As the client works on line, all work and communication will be done digitally.

  1. Create a concept board of clients likes of colours, furniture, lights/lighting
  2. Different materials fabric’s, samples
  3. Colour charts, wheels, paint samples wall paper, flooring, bench tops, stone sample
  4. Material – tape measure, texters/ pens/pencils, drawing pad, copy of the safety regulations act, food and services act, building code regulations act
  5. Any pictures, inspirations or clients preferences
  6. Research – magazines and books- fashion, home wears, from the 80’s
  7. Camera, lap top, portfolio
  8. Floor plans, material catalogs, contact list of everyone involved