It has been 3 months since our collaboration with Maltatype, celebrating the beautiful Noni restaurant in Valletta.


We wanted to learn more about the concept for the space right from the source. So, we reached out to Theo Cachia from Archi+ Studio, and he laid it all out for us. 

Photo Credit: Brian Grech

What was the concept when transforming the bakery into the current restaurant space found there today?

The design concept for NONI came about directly from the storied past of the place. As Xmun Borg’s Bakery and Confectionery, the compact outlet was well known for its sweet confectionary creations and came equipped with a wood fired oven. More recently, the outlet was repurposed as a jazz bar and live music venue. Drawing from this history we sought to temper the industrial aesthetic of the modern eatery with softer, looser lines befitting the former confectionary and music hall. This relationship informed practically every decision taken during the design stage.


What was the idea behind keeping the outdoor signage intact?

The added value such signage gives to the Valletta streetscape in general is something which can be very easily lost and impossible to recreate. The “Xmun Borg & Sons” sign is (thankfully) scheduled by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage but nevertheless, removing or replacing such an iconic traditional foil and glass sign was never on the table for us. When presented with the beautifully bold logotype for NONI it seemed only natural that a subtle, line-art version of the logo would be better suited for the main outdoor sign. Superimposing this modified logo onto a completely restored sign struck the right balance between paying homage to the past and looking forward to the future.

Photo Credit: Brian Grech

Photo Credit: Brian Grech

Photo Credit: Archi+ Studio

Photo Credit: Brian Grech

Photo Credit: Brian Grech

Photo Credit: Brian Grech

What can you tell us about the Materials used in the space, and how you came to decide on the overall feel?

Much like Noni’s cuisine, we wanted to create a very honest, genuine space. The term “industrial” is often thrown around in interior design circles, but for us it simply meant being unapologetic about using materials which were naturally suited to fulfilling the functional requirements of the given brief. Most of the materials from the beautiful masonry walls which we uncovered, to the timber of the fitted furniture to the black Pietra Lavica stairs and steel meshes all present their typical hues, textures and patterns. To complete this material palette, we added multiple shades of a single colour – the dark green lifted from the original sign and main door.


Would you say that there is a certain set of principles that should be adhered to when renovating a space in Valletta, given the heritage and history?

Historically sensitive locations such as Valletta always add a layer of depth to the design study of a space. When we were converting NONI, there was definitely an air of added confidence and proactivity when it came to refurbishing buildings in Valletta – even if they are small and of relatively humble origins like Xmun Borg’s Bakery. Unfortunately, time and other constraints sometimes reduce projects to pastiche imitations which contribute very little in terms of contemporary design. Although clean, modern lines are not necessarily the way to go in historically sensitive areas, one of the principles we adhered to when designing NONI was to incorporate subtle versions of traditional motifs within elements which are completely contemporary. From the Maltese patterned tiles to the wooden furniture panelling, the interior design looks appropriately traditional at first glance, but upon closer inspection it is clear that these elements are very much from our time.

Te fit-Tazza – Noni

Maltatype – Xmun Borg & Sons

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