Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Italian Trend: contemporary design bookshop cafe’s

Design Library, Milano

Design Library, Milano

Lately I’ve noticed a trend that I like very much: the bookshop/library, contemporary design, cafe/restaurant. I mean really, this combines everything I love best! This week I had the fortune of finding two examples of these polyfunctional spaces, and I expect that more will open soon.

MILANO: Design Library (Via Savona 11)

This is actually a library (not a bookstore), with a 20 euro library card and a reading room with books entirely dedicated to design. There’s an area near the door with couches and magazines that appears to be open to everyone. It’s also a luminous modern cafe’ with a nice lunch menu. It’s sufficiently quiet in the restaurant to have a proper business lunch here. I had the salad bar, which has a good variety of boiled vegetables.

121 Temporary Bookshop

121 Temporary Bookshop

Backed by corporate sponsors and with a branch open in Shanghai since 2007, this place is clearly a success. Open since 2006, its aim is to promote Italian design in the world. They have a serious list of weekly conferences and debates printed on a sleek flyer, featuring designers who will speak of things like sustainability, projecting, communication and the like. Well, this is Milan, so they have enough designers and interested public to pull this off.

In case you get sad cuz you could only read but not buy books, fear not: Just down the street at no. 121 there’s “121 Temporary bookshop” until March 18 2010 by Edizioni Corraini, with a mouth-watering selection of art books and toys.

Florence: Libreria Brac (via dei Vagellai, 18r)

Libreria Brac, Firenze (Florence)

Libreria Brac, Firenze (Florence)

We’re always a few years behind Milan but Libreria Brac is helping Florence catch up on the contemporary scene. Open only 5 months ago, Brac has a more difficult crowd to overcome (think Staid Florentines), but their central-yet-hidden position, their charm and good food will hopefully ensure their survival.

Brac sells contemporary art books and has a very homey cafe’ area divided in two by a pleasant courtyard. They have events and art shows announced on their website. And best of all, the kitchen provides vegetarian OR vegan food!

Not only am I going to officially start hanging out here cuz I like it, but I hope to organize an event that will include an aperitivo here in the Spring, so stay tuned!

Hopefully forthcoming in Florence…

Now for speculation… At Le Murate, the new center for the contemporary (life and arts) in Florence, the local government has put out a call for applications for an association wishing to create a “cafe’ filosofico o letterario” – a literary or philosophical cafe. What might a place like this look like? And what will be its cultural offering? We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out… but I’ll be the first to let you know when it happens.

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.