There are a lot of bold choices in the design of Via Porta, a cafe and deli in Mont Albert, an eastern suburb of Melbourne, and yet the result is a space that is inviting above all else. “It’s the kind of place you could really settle into,” one juror said. Meant to evoke the narrow alleyways of Italy, the floor is paved in stone offcuts procured from various suppliers and painstakingly fitted to create a unique and textured warmth. The sandy stones set the tone for the space’s lovely earth-hued palette, creating a feel that is tactile and intimate. There are materials employed here that are uncommon in contemporary interior design, such as the thick glass used for a large communal tabletop at the front of the room. The flow from the dining room to the retail area to the counter encourages interaction with the space, and allows customers to engage with the business in a multitude of ways.