Among our favorite places in Los Angeles is the Arcana bookstore in Culver City. It’s specialized in “books on the arts,” and its collection of books on art, design, photography, architecture and anything aesthetically significant is vast, comprehensive, and well-organized. They seem to have everything. Though Arcana is a business, its ambiance, interior design and space give it a feel that’s more like a library, albeit a handsome, spare, minimalist, post-modern library in a former industrial space. There are long communal tables upon which customers can lay heavy tomes of art and page through these books at a leisurely pace. It’s one of the best bookstores in the world. If GlobalGraphica was an actual place, Arcana would be our preferred physical manifestation of it, though with a kick-ass espresso machine and a rack full of surfboards included.
The flagship store of cosmetics brand Hourglass is a testament of exemplary, beautiful retail design. The shop is located on trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard near Venice Beach in Los Angeles, and the space is so “on brand” that the experience of the space feels like part of the product itself in ways similar to that the aesthetic minimalism of an Apple store and iPhone.
The cafe in the garden of the Nezu Museum in Aoyama, in Tokyo, is a striking example of minimalist architectural design and contemporary Japanese aesthetics. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides of the rectangular space give a full view of the garden and spectacular autumn foliage. A Japanese washi paper design is part of the ceiling material and allows diffused light into the space. This is one of more contemplative spaces in Tokyo and a fine place to while away an hour in reflection, sipping a coffee or tea.
The innovative, popular and charitable shoe-making company Toms has recently opened a coffee roaster and cafe in an airy bungalow that doubles as a concept store in the fashionable Abbott-Kinney neighborhood of Venice, in Los Angeles.
Lately we’ve started popping into the recently opened Happy Bones Coffee a lot. (See pix below.) Happy Bones is a
n Aussie Kiwi-staffed espresso cafe in downtown New York City. It’s a tiny place with three tables on an short, less-remarkable stretch of Broome Street in the ill-defined, mashed-up border area where Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo and Nolita all converge at the Lower East Side’s western edge.
Happy Bones serves up a solid menu of third-wave coffee brews and espresso drinks, including an honest “flat white.” Their coffee is roasted and supplied by Counter Culture (its barista training center is a couple of blocks away). But what really strikes us about the cafe is its decor, the clever design and clean style of the small space, which is drenched in a white minimalist color scheme that’s warm and inviting rather than cold and stark. A skylight and floor-to-ceiling glass frontage draw light into the place and give it some comfortable airiness.
The cafe has a legit downtown-culture and art vibe. A playlist of mostly 1980s and ’90s British music invariably is playing over the sound system (tunes by the likes of the Clash, Specials, Blur, etc.) and a collection of coffee-table art and photography books are on sale next to bags of coffee beans.
BTW … what’s with all the Australian expat baristas and bartenders in NYC these days? Seems like an invasion, and we <3 it. (The Kiwi invasion, too.) 😉
We recently popped by Propellor Coffee in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on one of those interminable snowy days during this year’s remarkably harsh winter in New York City. This cafe is a solid, local ‘third-wave” coffee joint with much more generous space than many of the miniscule espresso bars that these days seem to be opening up every five seconds in NYC. The atmosphere is warm, mild, friendly, unobtrusive amid a decor of spare 1960s- and ’70s-era vintage furniture and walls filled with thematic, similarly aged and well-preserved photography of airplanes and airlines, in keeping with the spirit of the cafe’s name. The usual retinue of cafe punters are here, the laptop brigades and freelance designer/scriptwriter/fashion blogger types, and the local hipster coffee nerds. It’s a wonderful place to while away an hour or two on a lazy Saturday afternoon nursing a hot latte while reading an actual printed newspaper copy of the New York Times, checking your Instagram, and staying warm.