This decorative installation artwork at the Converse concept store in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles, is a spooky and clever visual conceit. At a distance and without the context of the store, the viewer would likely be unable to perceive that the artwork is comprised of hundreds of Converse sneakers in various monochromatic shades. Up close, the viewer might fail to perceive that the composition of the sneakers forms a creepy human skull-like image. It’s briliant, if a little dark, but edgy and totally “on brand” for the fashion shoe company.
The clothing brand Monrow will soon be opening a retail concept store in this tiny, old California-style bungalow near Venice Beach in Los Angeles. As standard retail practice, the windows of the house-turned-shop are covered with paper to provide privacy while the final interior build-out is being completed. The Monrow signage is up and the lights are on, so the brand has announced itself in the neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what the company does with the space.
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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.
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.) 😉