Quick: Picture a hipster coffee shop. If reclaimed wood and Edison bulbs came to mind, there are two Dallas architects that would like to treat your eyes to something completely different.
”For Houndstooth Coffee, we were very consciously trying to break the trend of that typical hipster coffee shop,” said Mark Leveno, cofounding principal of OFFICIAL. “We were going for something a little more sophisticated.”
Although the Sylvan Avenue location is Houndstooth’s fourth, it doesn’t have a chain-like visual identity so Mark and partner Amy Wynne Leveno were given freedom to design down to the very last detail. Better yet, Houndstooth owner Sean Henry asked the firm to extend its ideas to Jettison, a sister cocktail bar in the same building.
The interiors offered substantial volume, allowing OFFICIAL to calibrate the sense of scale in the day-and-night spaces. “We looked at the whole space in section first to create a cafe and bar that were different, but related,” Amy said. That thinking is most evident up top: To balance the 16-foot-plus ceilings with a cafe coziness, the architects designed a “cloud” over the Houndstooth coffee bar to conceal the mechanical equipment. In Jettison, the mirror is a recessed “celestial void” lighting scheme made of painted gold trusses—and acts as a plenum space for the air conditioner. Concentrating mechanical functions in this way allowed the architects to keep the trusses in both spaces clean; the bright white Houndstooth ceiling foils Jettison’s sleek velvet finishes.
The cafe’s focal point, a circular service counter, would look right at home in a real bar—and that’s on purpose. Houndstooth is serious about coffee; baristas are as well versed in their brews and beans as they are in the perfect pour. Laptop-toting young people and families have a choice of seating: There’s a patio, communal tables, and stadium seating in the form of double-tiered oak benches that kids like to climb on.
Being Dallas, there’s opportunity for outdoor drinking. The patio was a “weird throwaway space” that came with the building, but the architects adopted it into their vision with a bold houndstooth-patterned screen that casts great shadows as it separates patrons from a busy road.
The concept is OFFICIAL’s, down to the fixtures and furnishings. The firm designed and fabricated the wall-mounted matte-gold metal lights that cantilever bare bulbs above the tables in Houndstooth, as well as the lean, vertical, perforated fixture mounted to the barside wall in Jettison. The duo always looks for opportunities for custom work: Along with to oak tables in Houndstooth and the Spanish cedar tables on the patio, Mark and Amy have created pieces that could work in other spaces, like a light fixture they designed for a client’s house in Austin. (“Every architect has a chair, so we’re trying something different,” said Mark.)
“It’s fun seeing this location on social media,” he added. “Typically people take pictures of their coffee, but they’re also taking pictures of the space, engaging with the architecture.” Both bar and coffee shop opened in July 2016, and so far the internet agrees: “Would have to say this is the best-designed coffee shop in Dallas,” said Google user Jeremy Turner. And not an Edison bulb in sight.