Early Bird cafe in Toronto by MSDS eschews “grab-and-go” coffee culture

MSDS Studio has matched pale chairs and tables with woodwork and plaster inside this Toronto cafe, to create a serene atmosphere for customers to enjoy their coffee.

The local studio designed the cafe as the second outpost of Toronto’s Early Bird chain, which it describes as having an “easy-going atmosphere”.

Early Bird by MSDS

The new 1,570-square-foot (146-square-metre) location is set below a host of shops in the city’s PATH complex – a network of underground pedestrian tunnels and walkways – meaning that it attracts a variety of clientele, many of whom are often on the move.

Early Bird by MSDS

MSDS Studio wanted the cafe to suit both the needs of customers in a hurry, but also encourage some to stay. Its response was to separate the to-go service area at the entrance from the adjoining seating area, by choosing different finishes for each.

Early Bird by MSDS

Bright white walls, fluorescent lighting and dark-blue details adorn the area of the food and drinks counter where customers will gather.

“This area is dressed in cool tones denoting efficiency and competence,” MSDS told Dezeen.

Early Bird by MSDS

Key features include the powder-coated, custom-made curved service counter and arched built-in wall nooks. Lighting traces these indents to add to the aesthetic and match the ceiling lights, while the menu is projected in lighting onto the rear wall.

Meanwhile, warmer pale beige tones are used in the adjoining seating area, such as the wood-clad walls and bare plaster. Benches placed along the back wall, as well as the chairs and tables, all match the hues of these materials.

Early Bird by MSDS

“The secondary space, located to the immediate right of the entrance, creates a sanctuary for those in need of respite, separating the seating area from commuter foot traffic by a wood-clad partition and plaster wall,” said the studio

“The warm materials and colours in this area compliment the rounded forms found throughout the space, and invite a sense of cafe culture into what would otherwise be a utilitarian grab-and-go cafe.”

Early Bird by MSDS

A circular opening punctured into one of the wood-clad walls offers a glimpse of a plant that grows in front of the glazed shop front, which is inscribed with the name of the cafe. Other greenery can be found in plant pots decorating the tables.

Elsewhere in Toronto, MSDS has completed a pale flower shop and a temporary light installation in the Aesop store on the busy Queen Street West.

Photography is by Shanghoon.

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