Tiger's Milk Muizenberg by CODE / Collaborative Design

Eclecticism meets a surfer aesthetic at Tiger’s Milk Muizenberg

An eclectic variety of collected items, combined with unique thrift store finds, became the concept for the interior of the Tiger’s Milk restaurant and bar in Muizenberg, which CODE designed in collaboration with the Harbour House team.

Much of the eclecticism of the space was inspired by the owner’s character, as well as his extensive collection of things. We embraced the challenge to arrange, design and use these elements to design a space that is cohesive in its aesthetic, while being warm and inviting to its guests.

From old National Geographic Magazines to surfboards and industrial fans, to the owner’s actual motorbike, room had to be made for all these things. This proved to be a wonderful exercise in the art of re-using, re-thinking and repurposing things that already exist.

The original brief was twofold: how to get customers (surfers mostly) up the stairs at 7am, and how to turn the bar into a coffee shop for the morning session. The effortless transformation of the space from night to day, and day to night, was achieved by segmenting various areas in the restaurant by way of different materials to demarcate specific sections, such as the bar and the deli counter.

As something of a main feature, much care was taken with the design of the bar. Keeping with the eclectic aesthetic, the bar was made to look aged with a pressed tin counterfront, finished with a rust paint effect in bronze and gold. The countertop was made from reclaimed Zimbabwean parquet flooring, inlaid with a brass edge trim to give it the kind of aged feel that harks back to the eclecticism of yesteryear.

The coffee bar became an extension of the bar and incorporated the same dark woods and brass finishes, reminiscent of the flavour and hue of good coffee. The juxtaposition between light and dark is further evident in the deli section where a dropped, white marble counter proved to be the ideal solution for displaying the baked goods that pair so well with the morning coffee.

Strategically it made sense to completely open the kitchen to allow for the life and vibe of the commercial kitchen to become part of the restaurant ambiance. Trough lights were custom designed to exaggerate the sense of industry in the space. Like with the bar, the counters in the kitchen are dark. Made from honed Zimbabwean granite, the effect is one of an aged, warm feel – which also happens to make for a great surface for rolling pizza dough and kneading bread.

The custom-built wood fired pizza oven was taken out of the kitchen and moved to a spot that makes it an additional feature in the restaurant. Where it stands today the flame of the oven can be seen as one comes up the stairs to enter the restaurant, which immediately creates an inviting sense of warmth too.

In a space with a predominantly dark aesthetic like this restaurant, the considered application of the right lighting is crucial in creating the optimal atmosphere. A repurposed crystal and glass-cut chandelier was placed in the centre of the space, above a custom-made 5m-long table. The chandelier plays to the sense of the old, adding both mood and the kind of warm light that is traditionally associated with a bar.

Clever, more ‘low-fi’ lighting solutions were incorporated into the ceiling by fitting the two recesses in the concrete with reclaimed sleeper wood to create a lattice framework. Mirrors were then fitted in between to reflect the light and life happening on the restaurant floor. The disc pendant lights around the bar were aged by bending and beating them, and then burying them in the ground for a couple of weeks to allow them to age realistically. In a space of 400 square metres acoustics is important, and even here CODE found a creative and attractive solution. The spaces between the ceiling trusses were covered in soundproof material and then covered in hessian cloth on which artist Donald Barnett painted icons on bags that look like old sacks, like the kind that would have been used back in the day to carry produce like wheat and coffee beans.

Even the walls were aged, using various paint techniques. Artist Tiziana Giardini aged the walls and she aged the moulded mock press ceiling with a variety of gold and bronze paints to add shine… and a touch of old-school glam to elevate the space from shabby to chic.

The view is one thing that speaks for itself and this was optimised by installing a low seating ledge below the big window that looks out over the ocean, so as not to obstruct the view. Stacking glass windows were chosen here to allow it to open fully and invite the ambiance of the natural environment to enter this eclectic hotspot.


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