Cafe Otto, located at Glebe, has been featured in Interior Fitout Magazine Feb – Mar 2013. The cafe was designed by Forward Thinking Design and photographed by Frank Karantonis, Image Smart.



Exposed brickwork and exposed timber rafters are just two of the honest, natural materials incorporated into this restaurant design. The designers wanted to see the heritage-listed structure literally rise from the ashes of its destruction (by a massive fire in 2010) with a sympathetic and evocative new fitout.

The use of exposed raw materials and revealed architectural details references the rubble and ruins of the destroyed restaurant, as well as the original materials and form of the building. As much as possible of the original building was kept and the facade was accurately reconstructed from photographs. The time frame was quite long (approximately over 12 months to completion) and continually changing due to the insurer’s involvement in the project.

“The rebuilding of Cafe Otto from beginning to end was such a long process,” says Neil Mirani, owner of Cafe Otto. “The creative team at Forward Thinking Design went far and beyond delivering the interior design, as they were always ready to help, listen, encourage and advise through various stages and council procedures. The designers’ re-use of materials and sensitivity towards the heritage-listed structure has delivered a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is helping to re-establish the business.”

The challenges were many and varied, starting with the constraints of the design and build being financed by the client’s insurers.

There were delayed payments, the need to balance the competing interests of the client and insurer, and the conflict between Forward Thinking Design’s desire to provide the most engaging design against the ambivalence of the insurer’s design contractors. In addition, there was the heritage significance of the site to support and respect as well as existing features of the building to integrate with the new. Updated building regulations had to be applied and services supplies needed to be reinstated.

“Having never worked on an insurance funded renovation before, we found this project to be challenging and unusually protracted,” Vanessa Cullen, principal of Forward Thinking Design says. “The final outcome was a long time coming but now provides a welcoming and contemporary dining environment.”

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