Daily Features

Page-Turning Spaces: 5 Cafés We Love To Read In

Coffee shops and reading are the perfect combination. Here are our favorites from across the country.

By Stela Razzaque, Superscript November 15, 2013

The thoughtful design of our environment has the power to bring people together, serve as a relaxing escape, and also inspire our creativity. Here are five of our favorite coffee shops and bookstores in the United States that provide a homey charm, and a sensational space to devour your favorite designer monograph.


© Norsman Architects

Caffe Streets, Chicago

The primary goal for Architect Brent Norsman was to create a space of inspiration and a memorable experience. The evocative design of Caffe Streets consists of floor-to-ceiling glass, which allows pedestrian views of the vibrant, bamboo interior, backlit perforated metal panels, communal tables, and a walk-up coffee bar. The focal point of the space is by far the organic, sculpted ceiling, inspired by the barristas’ cappuccino creations. This topographical layering of bamboo is a feast for the eyes, and invokes [is “invokes” the right word here?] the imagination of its design-loving clientele.

© David Joseph Photography

D’Espresso, New York

This quirky coffee bar, D'Espresso, on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue is inspired by its prominent neighbor just a block away, the New York Public Library. Designed by the Manhattan design firm nemaworkshop, the space is flanked with tiles running across the ceiling, walls, and floor, each glazed with images of books. Another wall is covered in herringbone-patterned oak flooring, creating the allusion of the cafe being flipped sideways, and inspiring customers to look at things from a different perspective.

© M. Scott Whitson / SLDesign

One Shot Coffee, Philadelphia

One of the first coffee shops to open its doors in Philadelphia, One Shot Coffee boasts a newly refurbished space, adorned with family heirlooms, industrial antiques, and furniture designed by local artisans. The owner, Melissa Baruno, wanted to create a space that reflected the artistic passion of the community. The team at SL Design used a combination of salvaged wood and vintage elements to create a homely, European feel. Most of the seating is located on the second floor of the building where there is a communal table, public displays of art, and a living room at the far end of the floor. Book-lovers can recline on the vintage leather sofas, and browse the collections stacked on a unique plumbers-pipe bookshelf.

© Front Studio

McNally Jackson, New York

From intimate nooks with sumptuous lounge chairs for quiet reading, to a huge machine that prints, binds and trims custom-ordered paperback books, McNally Jackson is an aspirational place, where the act of reading and book-buying is celebrated. The translucent print machine named Espresso, draws from a cloud library of seven million titles, and churns out books like freshly baked cookies. Boasting more than eight thousand works of literature organized by geography, one can pick up a book and relax in the upstairs café designed by Front Studio where flying books dangle from the ceiling above.

© Ray Katchatorian

Beachwood Café, Los Angeles

The new and improved Beachwood Café designed by architect Barbara Bestor, formerly known as the Village Coffee Shop, is a hidden gem nestled amid a strip of commercial buildings. The interior is cozy and stylish, with its vivid blue and yellow geometric flooring, whimsical wallpaper by local graphic designer Geoff McFetridge, exposed wooden beams, and mid-century style chairs. It’s a unique space, and one where a hip clientele can be found flicking through the latest design magazines.

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