Even in today’s digital world, printed books still enjoy a huge fan following. There’s just something about holding a real book in your hand, wondering about the author, the characters, and the hands that might have held it before you. Nemaworkshop, a New York-based collective of architects, designers and thinkers, tapped into this bibliophilia with their design concept for the second location of D’espresso, a trendy coffee shop located on Madison adjacent to Grand Central Terminal. Using uniquely printed tiles, the designers turned the entire cafe on its side, giving customers the feeling of being in a bookstore owned by Alice and the Mad Hatter.


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There are people who love books, and then there are people who love books so much they use them as flooring, wall paper and ceiling tiles. The designers at Nemaworkshop and the owners of D’espresso are clearly the latter. The client explained that while his chain consisted only of a single shop, he was expanding fast and wanted to create striking store interiors that would become New York icons rather than forgettable waystations. Based on these desires, the Nemaworkshop team decided that their design needed to be immediately eye-catching, and their solution was to get topsy-turvy.

“Drawing from the nearby New York Public Library in Bryant Park, the space is lined in a sepia-toned full size photograph of books printed on tiles. The custom tiles run along the floor, up the 15’ foot wall and across the ceiling,” explain the designers. “The frosted glass wall behind the service counter illuminates the space and the wall directly opposite is clad in rich brown herringbone. The thrust of this concept finds expression in the lighting and materiality, and ultimately the space gives definition to the emerging brand.”

Not surprisingly, the book-lined cafe has turned a few heads, some of them famous. Jesse Eisenberg, for one, who spent a few extra minutes examining the faux titles.

+ D’Espresso by Nemaworkshop