When you give celebrity interior designer Kelly Wearstler the task of designing a petite café in San Francisco, you get so much more than your average coffee shop décor. Case in point, Wearstler recently designed La Bande, an intimate coffee bar and market café in the city, and the finished space looks more like a glamorous dining enclave than any old coffee shop. One step inside and you'll think you've been transported to a Parisian café from the past.
It's equal parts retro and European, creating a striking atmosphere located in the San Francisco Proper, a luxury hotel that's taken over a 100-year-old restored historic flatiron building. With nods to a variety of modern artists and designers, it's so much more than a place to stop in for a cup of joe. Although, if you're in the city, it's certainly worth popping in for a nitro cold brew, perhaps an artisanal sandwich, and a front row seat to both an architectural feat and the streets of San Francisco.
Keep scrolling to take a look inside the heart-stoppingly chic café. You'll never look at a Starbucks the same way again.
La Bande translates to the word stripe in French, so it's only fitting that the shop emulates many characteristics of a European café. Looking at it from the street, you could just as easily be standing in Paris rather than San Francisco. There's plenty of outdoor seating primed for people watching and the unassuming exterior leaves much to the imagination until you go inside and take in the luxe décor.
Inspired by French conceptual artist Daniel Buren and the Secession Era—a time when modernist artists separated their ties from academic art—the interior is bursting with eye-catching details, striking designs, and bold colors, all of which contain hints that design and art lovers will catch onto. Rich, glossy green tiles create a moody vibe inside the café while warmer elements like brass, cerused wood, and natural stonework to create an inviting space filled with timeless charm. Have you ever seen a more dreamy combination than this green tile with that gray and white marble bar?
Not only is the café simply gorgeous, but it also serves up local Northern California food and drinks to sustain you while you take in the design and architecture of the space. The menu includes items like hand pies filled with homemade jams, homemade yogurt, artisanal sandwiches, and, of course, a variety of coffee and tea offerings. You can get everything from Counter Culture coffee and nitro cold brew on tap to tea from Leaves and Flowers Teas in Berkeley.
Upon closer examination, you'll note that the green tiles that cover both the floors and the walls are hand-glazed and feature graphic white and black stripes, a nod to the café's name, of course, as well as Buren's art which often featured linework. Natural light spills in from the blind-covered windows that face the street—another striped element—while tables meant to be shared add to the community feel of the space.
The Cipollino marble bar offers a stunning backdrop for food and drinks to be served. This material made of swirls of gray and white veining contrasts beautifully with the black plates and gold flatware. It's simply begging for you to post an Instagram of your meal.
The metal stools that surround the communal tables and the coffee bar were custom made and designed to appeal to the industrial aesthetic of the 1980s, as well as pay homage to French architect and designer Pierre Chareau. Overall, they work alongside the striking tile, marble, and orb pendant lighting to create a distinctly European atmosphere with hints of the past.
Although the café, of course, serves breakfast bites and other market essentials, it also embraces the Europea lifestyle by offering up craft beer, wine, and petite aperitifs in the late afternoon and evening for any lingering patrons. Just imagine taking a seat at a communal table inside or opting for a street side spot next to a heater to allow the day to turn into night with a glass of wine in hand. Next time you're in San Fransico, it's certainly worth a visit, whether you come for the interior design or the coffee.