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News > Context Winter 2023 > Design Profile: Alchemy Coffee | LO Design

Design Profile: Alchemy Coffee | LO Design

Photos: Round Three Photography
Photos: Round Three Photography

Alchemy Coffee is a third-wave café in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, designed by boutique architecture firm, LO Design. A collaboration with a talented, passionate client resulted in a unique interior reflecting the artisanal nature of the shop’s high-quality products and the mixed Japanese and West African heritage of its owner and lead coffee connoisseur, Chris Stone.  

Alchemy’s new space serves as a peaceful refuge for customers along a bustling section of 21st Street in the heart of Center City. The same attention to detail typically directed towards espresso drinks was focused on creating a shop that rivals the interiors of some of the best coffee bars in the world. Situated along the ground floor of a historic residential building, Alchemy welcomes visitors with a soft, bright palette using wood and plaster to bounce light within the space. A minimalist, bleached ash barista counter and pastry case is flanked by curved plaster walls, mirroring a seating bar on the opposite end of the shop. Brass kickplates give these two volumes the appearance of hovering over the neutral porcelain floors, while the altered shape of the room softens the perspective of the narrow space. 

LO Design guided the client through many challenges throughout the project. Halfway through design, lease negotiations forced the owner to change the shop’s location and the initial concept was adapted from a tall, triangular space to a rectangular floorplan with low ceilings. Further, the zoning of the store, despite previously being a café, required a use variance. The team confronted various material shortages, delays, and contractor mishaps as construction proceeded through the worst of the pandemic.  

Despite its size, this detail-focused project took nearly three years to complete. Today, it stands as one of the most popular local coffeeshops, and Alchemy’s custom-designed ash café tables are rarely vacant.  

Project: Alchemy Coffee 

Location: Philadelphia  

Client: Alchemy Coffee   

Project Size: 1000 sf 

Project Team:  

LO Design (Architect, Interior Designer, Project Manager) 

HiveMind Construction (General Contractor)  

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