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KL's top café designers

These design houses are behind some of KL's most stunning cafés

The Time Out KL team speaks to the design houses behind some of the most instagrammable cafés in the city such as Breakfast Thieves, Foo Foo Fine Desserts and Merchant's Lane.



Who they are
CocoKacang is helmed by the one-woman team of Amy Liang (also the studio’s sole interior architect), who specialises in both interior design and architecture.

About their work
CocoKacang may just be a year old, but it’s already made an impressive debut with Bangsar’s newcomer Breakfast Thieves. The café is set in a glasshouse-like space, adorned with pale wood, pastel-hued railings, exposed light bulbs, and a smattering of trees outside. Amy’s design philosophy is all about giving old spaces new life, as well as creating sweeping views with plenty of natural light.


Another facet to Amy’s work is nature; she’s built a greenbelt garden next to the café, which houses a number of plants such as pomegranate and curry trees so the kitchen staff can harvest and use them. The garden also leads to APW’s Pocket Park (designed by pow ideas), which doubles as an event space.

CocoKacang’s design style is a marriage between natural elements and man-made constructs. Case in point: The liberal use of floor-to-ceiling glass panels in Breakfast Thieves seemingly blurs the indoors and the outdoors, giving off the illusion that you’re dining amid nature.

For more info, visit CocoKacang's Facebook page.

pow ideas

pow ideas

Who they are
pow ideas is made up of Jun Ong and Kyle E, both architects by training, but each specialising in different things – Jun works with lights and Kyle with landscapes.

Best known for
Merchant’s Lane, Hoppers, Gerai Tai Tai and more.


About their work
The meaning of ‘pow’ translates to many things: A punch, an exclamation of something, or just that extra oomph. Though only a year old, pow ideas is behind some of the city’s most picturesque cafés; think Merchant’s Lane, Hoppers and Foo Foo Fine Desserts, to name a few. Apart from eateries, they’ve also worked on other projects such as product design and art installations. The latter includes Gerai Tai Tai, a pop-up interactive performance in the middle of a pasar malam.

pow ideas also has a penchant for incorporating the location’s story into their design: The Pantry is decked out with photographs of fabrics and bubbles by photographer Nadirah Zakariya, a subtle reference to the shop’s previous stint as a laundromat; and the clean white colour theme for fruit shop Dusun was intentional to allow the colours of the fruits to pop. The drive behind pow ideas is simple – to give the traditional and conventional a whole new lease of life.

For more info, visit powideas.co

Adrien Kent Creative Studio
Photo: Fadza Ishak

Adrien Kent Creative Studio

Who he is
Adrien Ritzal, of Adrien Kent Creative Studio, is a KL-based multi-hyphenate interior consultant and stylist, illustrator, harpist and owner of a golden-yellow, peach-faced lovebird named Wasabi.

Best known for
Double A Café, Gula Cakery, Sitka and more.

About his work
He cuts a profile as colourful as those of his clients and their cafés, which include early-generation third-wave coffee spaces in KL, like Butter + Beans at Seventeen (which was recently renovated), the small, sunlit Feeka, and Food Foundry.

Adrien’s projects reflect a creative, collaborative relationship between furniture, function and form, as well as brand, client and designer. The outcome is that of a timeless, yet timely, style. His work certainly embodies the wisdom stated on his website: a meeting of ‘architectural nuances’ and ‘spatial ease’.


More recently, he’s also responsible for Double A Café and its iconic, monochromatic hexagonal tiles; the creamy, calming spring shades and pastel prettiness of Gula Cakery, owned and operated by Adrien’s sister and star baker Ariene Ritzal; and the strong, seamless integration of architecture and aesthetics that is Sitka. Sitka, specifically, embraces the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, or of ‘celebrating imperfections’ in the words of Adrien: a modern, minimalist and quietly elegant space centred by a concrete countertop and exposed light wiring, creating a sculptural accent.

He’s more than a one-trick pony though; he also works on events styling, as well as retail and residential decor, such as Catcha Group’s office (which boasts a ping pong table and punching bag), d.d collective at Publika, and the sophisticated, sleek silhouettes of FashionValet.

For more info, visit adrienkent.com.

Photo: Heartpatrick


Who they are
MentahMatter is a multidisciplinary architecture firm founded by architect Shin Chang and interior designer Penny Ng in 2012. Their decor style, like the firm’s name, mostly features materials in their rawrest form.

Best known for
Chocha Foodstore, Le Pont Boulangerie

About their work
While MentahMatter focuses mostly on smaller projects such as retreats and private homes, they have worked on two cafés so far – Chocha Foodstore (one of the most gorgeous openings of the year; a former hostel on Petaling Street restored into a multipurpose space and tea café), and Le Pont Boulangerie (a bakery, café and coffee bar in one, with smooth concrete, polished wood and soaring ceilings). At first glance, Chocha and Le Pont couldn’t be more different, but there’s a certain MentahMatter touch in the way they create volume and enhance movement by maximising the capacity of the space available to them.


‘Our focus is not just on making beautiful things. Beauty is subjective. What we’re interested in is making a difference,’ says Shin Chang. Pointing out the well-worn walls in Chocha, Shin Chang says, ‘With Chocha, what I want to highlight is conservation. I’m not just cleaning up Petaling Street, asking people to open F&B businesses here. I want to create awareness that these walls can be beautiful too. People say they look dirty, but I cleaned them up. And they look beautiful the way they are, no need to knock them down and rebuild.’

Describing future plans for Chocha which include a design bookstore and a cocktail wine bar, Shin Chang is quick to explain that Chocha isn’t just a café. ‘What I’m doing is what people have been doing here in hostels in Petaling Street all these years ago. It’s collaboration.’

For more info, visit mentahmatter.com.