2013 Melbourne Design Awards

Image Credit : Michael Kai



Project Overview

Coffee is entrenched in Melbourne's identity as both a product and contributor to its cosmopolitan culture. Melbourne's love affair with coffee has evolved beyond the renowned labyrinth of laneways and the city centre - taking with it the expectation of a multi-sensory experience incorporating great, often locally roasted, coffee and unique design.

Code Black is simultaneously a laboratory, a workshop and a hub for connoisseurs of the dark art and science of coffee. Its design delivers a stripped back, masculine, almost reverential ode to the coffee bean.

Project Commissioner

Cafenatics Group

Project Creator

Zwei Interiors Architecture


Zwei Designers: Katherine Kemp & Hanna Richardson


Photographer: Michael Kai
Lighting Design: Volker Haug
Branding & Illustration: Salmon Design
Builder: Four Seasons Commercial Interiors

Project Brief

Set in a large inner-city double fronted warehouse shell, Code Black accommodates a new roasting operation, the headquarters for the administration of the existing business, and a public coffee outlet.

Upon entering the coffee outlet, the eye is led past the servery into the depth of the building where the 20kg roaster dramatically resides. Situating the roaster in full display adds an element of theatre, but most importantly it signifies the quality and craftsmanship of the cafe’s product. After all, coffee is king at Code Black.

Using dark, warm tones to mute the volume, lighting and form create drama within the building’s shell. Yellow highlights punctuate the ceiling of the kitchen and office areas, and the seating fabric is patterned with a Josef Frank coffee bean illustration. The Code Black branding is expressed in the choice of materials, and in the hue of the black colour base.

With the roasting process on full display and a strong use of raw black steel, stained OSB board and concrete, the space communicates a raw and uncompromising approach to coffee.

Project Need

After more than 15 years in Melbourne's hospitality industry, Joseph Haddad and the Cafenatics team remain passionate about coffee and continue to push the boundaries of the café experience. Code Black's design had to communicate this commitment to coffee and invite visitors into this complex realm.

The transparency of operations in Code Black means no area within the space has hierarchy over the other. Each space is clearly defined while sitting easily and honestly alongside the parallel zones – they lead into each other and create focus and a play on perspective.

Code Black is simultaneously a laboratory, a workshop and a hub for connoisseurs of the dark art and science of coffee. Its design delivers a stripped back, masculine, almost reverential ode to the coffee bean.

Design Challenge

Using the client brief as a starting point, the project underwent many permutations prior to and during construction. The design team continually pushed the client to define project requirements, whilst the client pushed the design team to deliver a personal and singular vision that was difficult to quantify.

Working as a tight client, builder and design team, the project is an example of the success of continued communication throughout the building process, as well as a depth of understanding of the client requirements by both design team and the builder.

The final built form is a project that is designed, crafted and executed beyond what the client imagined.


Rather than demolishing the existing building, the team opted to maintain and work with the existing shell to redefine the space.

Skylights were re-instated in order to maximise natural light and shades were added with hot Melbourne summers in mind.

Ceiling fans have been installed to reduce reliance on air conditioning and maximise air flow.

The OSB sheets used have been left large where possible and minimally treated to allow for re-use at the end of the design's lifespan.

Bicycle storage is a key feature of the exterior with the aim of encouraging sustainable transport.

And finally, all designers are local and customised elements were all built locally.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors, with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes, aesthetic presentation and functionality. Consideration also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.  

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