In Cape Town’s ever-evolving east city, a new eatery has raised the bar when it comes to design. Bold artwork, patterned tiles and stunning light fixtures give Swan Café a unique charm that delights anyone who walks through the door.
The café is a traditional French crêperie that brings a touch of Parisian flair to the city, conceptualised beautifully by South African interior designer Haldane Martin.
inspiration and art
The blue swan logo is at the centre of the café’s identity. Owner Jessica Rushmere has always identified with the elegant and majestic bird, and these attributes inspired the look and feel of the space. The graphic identity, created by Heidi Chisholm, also serves as the central interior design concept.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Leda and the Swan was transformed into a monochromatic dark blue-and-white mural placed on the side wall, making for a distinctive centrepiece. The back wall features Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Leda and the Swan, while the graphic wallpaper was custom-designed by Cara Saven.
To celebrate France, Rushmere’s home country, the French flag is artfully interpreted into dominant dark blue, grey and pinkish timber finishes with dashes of red highlights. The colour scheme extends to the waiters’ uniforms, crockery and merchandise on display.
furniture and lighting
The furnishings pay homage to traditional French cafés, with marble bistro café tables and bespoke seating that includes a contemporary steel and wood version of a bistro chair in striking red. A large nook at the back is formed by casual couches upholstered in denim and pinstriped denim by Leon at CCXIX, with complementary light pinkish-toned timbers used for table tops and shelving.
One of the most striking elements of the space is the lighting: copper and brass metallic vintage lights are suspended throughout the café, brass pendants hang above the main counter, egg-shaped feature lights adorn the back wall and bird cage lights in copper with red cords hover charmingly above the seating. Modelled by vintage lighting company Hoi P’loy, it’s one of the first things you notice about the café’s interior.
custom tiles and displays
Scattered over the concrete entrance are beautiful custom blue-and-white hexagon tiles with the swan logo, designed and hand-painted by De Kleipot. Blue feather-shaped ceramic tiles create a handcrafted, detailed finish on the main bar and back bar wall in the open-plan kitchen.
In the bathroom, blue and pink swan wallpaper forms a feature with white Victorian tiles and a simple arched mirror, quirkily signposted ‘Toilette’. Everything from the crêpe making to the crockery is on display. A wire and plywood adjustable shelving system showcases various items for sale, from teas to accessories. The shop-fitting was done by WoodSpec and the catering equipment is from JAG.
All this makes for a striking café that offers something different both with its look, atmosphere and offering.
Find Swan Café at the corner of Buitenkant and Barrack streets in Zonnebloem, Cape Town. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8am–4pm; Saturday 8am–2pm; closed Sunday and public holidays. For more information and a glimpse of the menu visit swancafe.co.za.