This is one of my very favourite café-bar-galleries – Velvet – on a quiet side street in the middle of the city of Zagreb. We stopped in on the way home from holiday last month for a light lunch after visiting my grandmother and before we hopped on the plane back to London. I was very kindly allowed to take a few pictures inside and wanted to share them here. The interior is the vision of the talented Croatian contemporary artist and florist Saša Šekoranja. I met Saša briefly a couple of years ago when I had visited the original smaller café and gallery with my mother and had bought a book of his drawings as a gift for my husband. He also owns a florists near by which is like an art gallery, exhibiting the most amazing floral creations combined with his artworks.
Velvet’s decor is filled with creativity, style and quirky details. I love the contrast in the centre of the room for example – a stack of ornate chandeliers boxed in plain, untreated wood resting on a big table, making an unexpected sculptural centrepiece.
The café-bar has now expanded next door with a darker, more vintage feel and a delightful terrace outside. Saša’s artworks are everywhere and are beautiful, expressive, decisive and I just love his mark making – it makes the interior so individual. The smaller café’s walls are covered in frames, some filled with drawings and some left empty, ready for new pictures that he draws when he visits. He uses a lot of aesthetic techniques that I love – simple line drawing, painted graphics, patina, texture. monochrome and subtle colour. It’s probably why I love it so much!
An exhibition of handmade ceramics displayed against a chalkboard wall with simple white chalk drawings mirror the geometric, monochrome paintings on other walls.
I love the use of classic black bentwood chairs, each one uniquely customised with a simple, expressive daub of red paint or the end of one chair leg dipped to match. The vintage tables too have been numbered with large simple stencils all adding to the graphic effect.
I love the details. Vintage books, tied in bundles as displays and placed individually on each table with the menu stuck inside.
Vintage metal containers used as planters and up-ended as side tables with an old mirror and bench are typical examples of the quirky but sophisticated decor. Our lunch was simple, fresh and delicious – fresh tomato and mozzarella and Caesar salads with homemade lemonade. It’s also a great spot for people-watching, with lots of stylish locals passing by or chatting over coffee or a glass of wine. I know I’ll be stopping in again next time I am in Zagreb.
By coincidence I had been flicking through August’s Croatian Elle Decoration magazine a few days before and a four page spread immediately stood out and grabbed my eye. I then realised it was Saša’s work. Simple, natural, expressive. Just lovely.
If you ever find yourself in Zagreb then I highly recommend stopping in at the florist gallery on Ilica (No. 82) then on to Velvet, just round the corner on Dezmanova Ulica. See the Velvet website for more details.
Food, family, friends, art and flowers in a fabulous setting – what better way to spend some time?
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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