Anything but PLAIN, H2R Design designs a fresh new handcrafted dessert concept in City Centre Mirdif

H2R DESIGN worked on the design and fit out of PLAIN, a new handcrafted dessert concept homegrown in the UAE. Located in City Centre Mirdif, the new unit in the mall was designed to create a space that celebrates the combination of high-quality desserts in a tranquil ambience, within a unique and uplifting experience. 

The Brief:
The aim was to create a clean yet attractive aesthetic that would complement PLAIN’s wide range of flavours and desserts, while still allowing the products to stand out.  

H2R Design was asked to develop the brand identity and interiors harmoniously, (a task that was carried out by the in-house branding and design team). The design studio translated the brief holistically, creating a neutral expression allowing all the creative and wonderful dessert offerings to appear as anything but plain. 

The Inspiration:
The inspiration and mood of the concept can be defined as a monochromatic neutral space, with hints of soft colours and touches of warmth from timber furniture and panelling on some joinery items. The overall theme is tonal and understated yet fresh.

H2R Design created a simple and sophisticated logo with clean typography paired with a playful personality that is evident through the pastel colour palette. This has become the brands main identifier and general tone of voice. Custom line illustrations were also introduced, giving the brand a harmonious balance between elegance and play.

H2R Design studied the depths of PLAIN to design a space that truly reflected its identity. The research uncovered the concept’s origins, stemming as a place to serve Japanese desserts.  This automatically led to the design embracing a more minimal and tranquil approach. 

However, the concept had to be more unique than that, it needed an identity for itself. Researching the menu offerings, H2R Design incorporated tones that were inspired by the desserts. For example, the toppings on top of the kakigori (a shaved ice dessert), added a splash of colour to the otherwise plain coloured sweet and the honey toast and pancakes having beige and off-white tones. 

This led to a neutral on the outside, a surprise on the inside approach for PLAIN’s whole design conceptualization.

Key Design Features:
There is alignment from the entrance all the way to the counter at the back, framing the entire space. Tying in the branding with the interior was crucial and this is how H2R Design created the concept from paper to build.

Overall, straight simple lines are displayed throughout the space, where everything is there to be functional, while still maintaining a minimal beauty. Due to how minimal the space is, H2R Design had to pay attention to details, with how frameworks met, the datum lines of the mesh, and perfecting every single joint. 

H2R Design used neutral toned micro-topping in abundance in addition to stones in similar in colours. Stainless steel is the dominant ingredient in the majority of the metals, which sit fresh against the warmth of oak timber design features. The brand’s colours are on a mesh, allowing for the addition of stencilled branding icons, harmonising the branding with the interior. 

Colour Palette
PLAIN’s unique products, branding, and fresh neutral interiors identify the colourways, which are of neutral blues and beiges in the branding and the accent in the pink and tan in the furniture. H2R Design integrated the warm pink and tan colour tones into the fabrics of the loose furniture. The blue from the branding covers the banquette seating, so diners can feel the connection to the interiors, fully embracing the brand’s identity.

The overall colour scheme emanates neutrality and minimalism.

The use of grey micro-toppings, stones, floor tiles and greys in the structure allowed for H2R Design to create a very lightly coloured space for the display of the food to burst and reveal its own personality. 

The micro-topping and textured paint were implemented to create a neutral but textured effect taking away from it being totally flat. However, grey stones were used for the counter tops for durability and the with the tiles giving off a canvas like aesthetic. 

Oak timber has also been used throughout the space to ignite some warmth amongst the monochrome mood. 

Stainless steel is the central metal element with blackened steel prominently displayed. The placement is crisp and sits beautifully up against the warmth of the timber framework. 

Artistic Elements
Mesh is a distinguishable feature throughout in the design. There was the use of mesh to frame the space and to create a canvas to stencil the branding icons that represent the food offerings. The mesh also frames the key spaces such as the back counter.

Stencils are done with paint directly onto the perforated mesh, bringing together the branding icons with the interiors. 

Shopfront icons represent the food offering. The identity is minimalistic, but the icons add touches of playfulness.

The decorative light fittings are modest and neutral in colour but also had to be tuned with the luxe levels from the mall’s interiors. 

The ceiling lighting is flush clean, minimal, and practical, while decorative grey neutral Muuto light fittings hang above the perimeter tables. 

H2R Design’s detailed approach is also present in the tableware, crockery and utensils served to diners. From the plates, the sous plats, to serviettes, the cohesive neutral tones with soft touches of pink and blue, similar to the fabrics used creating the interior identity, are reinforced.

A kitchen pass was developed to connect the back of house space to the front of house, next to the main counter.

Originally, the flooring design also featured micro-topping; however, for durability tiles were used instead.

Décor and Accents
Minimal greenery with a wonderful story can be found on the shelving and tables. These décor pieces were purchased by a client from a charity supporting children with special needs.