Playful shades of Africa for Nando’s Parow

Take a powerful brand, add a clear design concept to work with, and an enthusiastic interior design consultancy, and the result is guaranteed to be as spectacular as it is dynamic and fit-to-purpose.

We were the first designers in South Africa to be approached by restaurant chain Nando’s to implement their vision of redesigning their fast food outlets to reflect more of a casual dining experience, in a modern and contemporary African manner.

Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity to refresh one of the Nando’s outlets in Parow, Cape Town, with a strong local aesthetic that embraces more than a little playfulness.

Collaboration came into its own right at nearly every point in the conceptualisation and design process of the project. It started with the brief, which came from Nando’s but which allowed for plenty of input from our team. Right from the outset our vision with the space was to make it funky and youthful, with a strong contemporary African theme underpinning it.

The strategic use of red, orange and yellow as the dominant colours served the theme, as these are often recognised as typically African colours. Coincidentally they are also the Nando’s brand colours. We added blues and greens to this colour palette to freshen it up and to add a touch of cheekiness, which also reflects something of the brand personality.

Working from the bottom up, we opted for a dark tiled floor to ground the space while a reclaimed brick wall as a feature adds a cultivated richness and character – an authenticity – to the venue. The rustic look of the heritage-inspired brick wall stands in contrast to the vibrancy of the Moroccan patterns on the tiles along the bottom of the wall. A brass edging adds the final touch, as well as an element of shine and ‘glam’. Finally,  backlit LED lights that add a unique micro atmosphere to the booths.

The pattern on the tiles is Moroccan-inspired, as is the seating fabric for the booth seats. The latter was designed by local fabric designer Carole Nevin in the various brand colours, including a subtle blue.

Blue also came into its own at the ordering counter, for which we chose a special blue agata granite countertop. The ordering counter had to be the main focal point of the restaurants to encourage direct access to the services offered and to direct the flow onto the rest of the restaurant. The choice of real stone for this important feature was a very conscious decision and aligned to the preference for using real materials – brick, concrete and wood – to add to the authenticity of the restaurant and the brand.

The choice of a warm red, wrought-iron chandelier offers an interesting juxtaposition between old-school chic and modern sophistication. The main table was made from reclaimed, solid Oregon pine, while the chairs were all custom made in leather for both durability and the authentic aesthetic a natural material brings to a space. On a conceptual level this also contributed to the upgrade of the space from fast food joint to casual dining restaurant. Here we opted for a bucket-shaped chair for both comfort and as a solution to maximise space around the big table.

Another playful feature in the space is the handpainted geometric tree-inspired design that winds up the columns and onto the beams. This involved a fantastic collaboration with local artist Donald Barnett.

In a last but not least way, the selection of art for the walls of this restaurant was a definite project highlight for us. Nando’s owns the world’s largest collection of contemporary South African art in the world – and most of it can be found hanging in its restaurants! As such, part of CODE’s role in this project was to work in collaboration with Yellowwoods Art to select relevant pieces from the brand’s extensive collection. To complement the overall concept, CODE opted for pieces with warm, yellow tones, contrasted by vibrant  cool colours to complete the concept that runs throughout the restaurant, as well as artworks that display a geometric element, as geometry is something of a subtle feature that a sophisticated eye will notice in the space.


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