The all-day café is as much an aesthetic as it is a cuisine. The first-wave iterations, which opened a few years ago now, were marked by brass accents, hot-pink neon, and welcome-to-my-house plants. In part, it’s a look that was ushered in by Amy Morris and Anna Polonsky of New York design firm the MP Shift when they slapped together Tilda All Day (now Otway) on a microbudget in 2015. The duo decorated the walls with geometric patterns inspired by painter Sol LeWitt and designed seating arrangements to accommodate meetings, friend dates, and freelancers alike. Tilda led to commissions for further cafés like De Maria and Golda.
How soon until the design vibe becomes one pink cliché? That’s a full-time challenge now that the MP Shift has been hired to design all-day spaces like Vibrant in Houston and create the branding for “L.A.–style” café Echo in Paris—the concept of an all-day café in Paris being laughable, considering that the city’s had a lockdown on them since the 1800s.
At Kismet, an L.A.–style café that former New York chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson opened in Los Feliz last year, the now-familiar design elements—light wood furniture, desert greenery, cursive pink logo—have been refined. In this case, the neon sign is a subtler dusty quartz. As for the secret to designing a space that looks good at breakfast, lunch, and dinner? “Dimmers,” Morris and Polonsky say in unison.