As stainless steel continues to take the design world by storm, it’s starting to feel like all the coolest hospitality spaces are suddenly modelling themselves after commercial kitchens. Maybe it’s the influence of The Bear, or maybe we’re all just craving some sense of order during a chaotic time. Either way, the latest project that’s taken a shining to stark, disciplined design is Istanbul coffee shop Petra Pera, designed by local firm Sanayi313

An L-shaped stainless steel bar in a subterranean space painted white. Stainless steel shelves on a white column display a selection of coffee beans.

Granted, in this setting, the industrial kitchen aesthetic is far more than just a trendy surface treatment. As anyone awaiting their morning caffeine will tell you, the more efficiently a coffee shop is structured, the better. A distraction-free environment also benefits freelancers. Indeed, Sanayi313 — which describes its design for Petra Pera as “bright, minimal, unpretentious and definitively modern” — conceived the café as somewhere where “visitors are invited to spend long hours without getting weary.”

The exterior of Petra Pera coffee shop in Istanbul, a white building with decorative moulding on a sloped stone street.
The top mezzanine level of Petra Pera coffee shop in Istanbul featuring a series of small round tables with stools and a wood-topped concrete bench that backs onto a glass balcony overlooking the lower level.

Building on Petra Pera’s nonchalant, back-of-house feel, the coffee shop is also buried below ground. When customers arrive, they enter into a street-level seating area suspended on an upper mezzanine. Looking ahead, a back wall clad in brick blocks allows a soft glow to shine through. But it’s the long stainless steel bar below that really draws your attention. A side staircase leads down to this lower level counter, all the while creating additional bleacher-style benches in process. (While maximizing the amount of seating and sunlight available within the shop’s limited footprint, this scheme does have its limitations in terms of accessibility.) In a nice natural touch, cushions are made of cork.

Stepped seating with cork cushions leads down from the top mezzanine at Petra Pera coffee shop in Istanbul.
The stainless steel counter at Petra Pera coffee shop in Berlin integrates into the stepped bleach seating like a jigsaw puzzle.

Thanks to the stainless steel bar’s cascading form, it slots into the stepped benches with Tetris-like flair. To hear Sanayi313 tell it, this blurring of service and dining space is meant to further heighten the connection between Petra Pera’s baristas and customers. “The interaction creates a sense of belonging and regularity,” the firm explains. 

A selection of patterned ceramic bowls holding pastries sit on the stainless steel counter at Petra Pera café in Istanbul.
A closeup of one of the patterned dishes.

At the other end of the L-shaped counter, ceramic platters produced in the Kütahya (a city with a rich history of ceramic production dating back to the Ottoman era) display the café’s pastries. A surprise departure from the storefront’s otherwise austere appearance, these patterned vessels provide a refreshing hit of Turkish character.

A corner seating niche features walnut veneer paneling with shelves holding magazines. A boxy white speaker extends out from the wall above it.
Stairs pass by the walnut-lined reading area.

In another fun departure from the project’s primary material palette, a corner seating area is enclosed by walnut veneer magazine racks. A contrast to the otherwise cool environment around it, this warm niche encourages bookworms to linger.

Perforated stainless steel panels clad the walls of a corner boutique area featuring a selection of coats.
Perforated stainless steel panels clad the walls of a corner boutique area featuring a selection of coats.

Moving towards the back of the lower level, there’s still one final surprise in store: Bilstore. Operated by the owners of the building, the micro-boutique cycles through retail “exhibits,” with modular systems facilitating frequent product swaps. Throughout, steel panels establish some consistency with the rest of the subterranean space — even picking up on the same perforated pattern that defines the Petra Pera’s boxy wall speakers.

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