317 Madison Avenue
New York, New York
Don’t be fooled, you won’t be able to grab a book from the walls—or the floor—of this coffee bar near Grand Central Terminal. D’espresso’s new Midtown space has been transformed into a library and turned on its side, with help from New York–based nemaworkshop and a little gravity-defying design. Cafe owner Eugene Kagansky asked designer Anurag Nema to draw inspiration from the nearby New York Public Library at Bryant Park, but wanted this latest location of his fast-expanding empire to be more creative. The $500,000 project also had to provide a space where local businesspeople felt comfortable sipping a latte alongside the inevitable crowd of tourists. Nema’s book-centric display offers a pleasantly surreal setting where both can caffeinate in style. Inside D’espresso, a herringbone-patterned oak floor climbs up one wall of the 500-square-foot space, while opposite, a series of spherical light fixtures, typically seen suspended from the ceiling, here protrude from a wall behind the service counter, which is further illuminated by frosted-glass panels. Custom ceramic tiles emblazoned with sepia-toned books fill the space’s floor, ceiling, and another 15-foot-high wall to complete the sideways library effect.