For City of Saints, coffee shops are neighbourhood hubs. Indeed, its four locations in New Jersey and New York are designed to reflect the personality of their surroundings: in Hoboken, it established a warm, wood-lined café on a residential side street. In Bushwick, where the brand roasts its beans, it occupies a cavernous, graffiti-filled warehouse. And for the newest outpost, in Bryant Park, it tapped local architecture firm Only If, founded by Adam Snow Frampton and Karolina Czeczek, to design a strikingly unconventional coffee bar that nods to both nearby green spaces and the bustle of Midtown.
Viewing the location from afar, the first thing one notices is the abundance of seafoam green. A prominent colour in the brand’s palette – note City of Saints’ minty coffee cups – the hue also serves another purpose: it’s an on-trend colour that, says the firm, feels equally at home in natural and tech-geared environments. In other words, it’s perfect for the Bryant Park neighbourhood, both full of greenery and steps from the LED-lit dazzle of Times Square. “Trend forecaster WGSN has identified this shade of green, a gender-neutral colour with an oxygenating, fresh tone that aligns nature with science and technology, to become increasingly important in fashion and interiors in 2020 and into the next decade,” the firm explains.
That hue can be found throughout the 900-square-foot coffee bar. As visitors enter, they’re greeted by a wall clad in translucent celeste fibreglass grating – which adds futuristic intrigue throughout the café – and a seating area with suede upholstery. A set of stairs with custom stainless-steel handrails leads the undercaffeinated to City of Saints’ main feature: a coffee bar perched on a raised central island.
Here, efficiency reigns supreme. The fibreglass-clad island with quartzite countertop is part workspace, part display area, surrounding baristas with espresso machines, grinders, pour-over stations, condiments and nitro taps (topped, of course, with seafoam handles). The island, says the firm, “choreographs the movements of customers” into a loop, allowing customers to place their order, pick it up, add essential condiments, then leave. Fast-walking Manhattanites will surely appreciate the efficacy of such a layout, which Only If perfected at Voyager Espresso, a Financial District coffee shop built around a circular bar.
But the space isn’t solely designed to move customers along. For those who choose to gather or work, Only If added a lounge that slows down the speedy pace of the go-go-go coffee island. Defined by a continuous, LED-lit banquette and more seafoam upholstery, the room is outfitted with portable tables, indirect lighting and multiple power outlets that encourage visitors to linger. Mirrors make the lounge feel expansive, while the green epoxy paint subtly contrasts against splash-resistant, pale grey rubber flooring.