Cool Spaces: Dear Maria Café

WORDS Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES Alexi Portokallis and Roarke Bouffe


An espresso bar and pâtisserie in Johannesburg’s Bedfordview has been transformed into a characterful space by local husband-and-wife design duo, Daniel Ting Chong and Samantha Shan.

Daniel and Samantha were tasked to create a space that honoured the client’s mother – a space that felt homely, yet modern; a space that would be a metaphorical letter to Maria. “The conceptual focus was to ensure that the space is mature and rich in colour, modest and almost lived in,” explains the duo. “We paired this notion with the timeless but progressively modern appreciation of rough, truthful materials that expose raw craftsmanship.”

After asking Maria herself what her favourite colours were, Daniel and Samantha were able to develop a complementary colour palette for both the space itself and the café’s brand identity. “We developed the colour palette by staying true to the concept, which is to communicate Maria’s story in a respectful and beautiful manner.”

The interiors make use of reclaimed timber, something that was important for both designers. “The re-use of materials is becoming increasingly important for us from a moral and environmental perspective, and mutually beneficial to the creative industry. Every object or material has the potential to continuously begin another life cycle but possibly in a different shape and form. The idea of this potential challenges us creatively, which in turn brings exciting prospects for the continual transformation of ‘things’”.

Custom-made terrazzo countertops using the brand’s colour palette were also installed, with the help of shop fitter Ronnie Townsend. “We wanted to give the space a quality that would be a unique characteristic of the brand, and terrazzo afforded us the opportunity to achieve this through the selection of glass chips in the branding colours of green and orange. Terrazzo naturally has a magical quality, and the ability to incorporate the specific branding colours made it that much more exceptional.”

Visit Dear Maria at 59 Van Buuren Rd, Bedfordview, Germiston, Johannesburg.