Don Francisco’s Coffee Casa Cubana Downtown LA

Don Francisco’s Coffee Casa Cubana

“It’s great time to be a designer in Downtown L.A.,” says Norella Carboni Amiel, director of design for Omgivning, a practice that is on the march in architecture and interiors, prolifically so in Downtown Los Angeles,



Don Francisco’s Coffee Casa Cubana

Omgivning’s award-winning design of a brick-and-mortar expresses the cultural, character-rich origin story of a classic brand.

“It’s great time to be a designer in Downtown L.A.,” says Norella Carboni Amiel, director of design for Omgivning, a practice that is on the march in architecture and interiors, prolifically so in Downtown Los Angeles, where its has a host of new projects on the boards, and one for the books—Don Francisco’s Coffee Casa Cubana.

Don Francisco’s buzzy brick and mortar—the company’s first—was a real wakeup call for both the visually-driven consumer and the 1924 Broadway-Spring Arcade Building the café calls home. Though the building wasn’t without its architectural charms (imposing glass ceiling, Spanish Baroque arches), it clearly needed new life. Enter Omgivning’s exquisite, award-winning café for the Don Francisco’s coffee brand, established in the 1950s by the Gaviña family, who migrated from Spain to Cuba in the 1870s, then left for Los Angeles following the Cuban Revolution.

Omgivning privileged the warmth and richness of this heritage to conceive a design with precisely these qualities while introducing new imagery and tones. The design is best described as a tropical blend. Decorative elements include lush terracotta hues, Caribbean-style plants, and a custom wall covering drawn from vintage stamps of native Cuban birds.

A fleur de lis around the space’s arches comes from the family’s crest, and tile patterning is inspired by Don Francisco’s logo. These complement personal touches, including reproductions of vintage family photos and family donations like a collection of historic artifacts for roasting and grinding coffee.

Today Don Francisco’s café is a destination in constant dialogue with its immediate and evolving environment. “The Arcade Building’s past matches that of Downtown Los Angeles in general, and its neighborhood, the Historic Core, in particular,” says Carboni Amiel in reference to this developing conversation. “If awards are any indication of success, I think it speaks broadly to the fact that we got the balance of history and modernity just right.”

Photographs: Courtesy Of Emi Kitawaki


Saint-Pères: A Parisian Masterpiece by Designer Hugo Toro

Designer Hugo Toro has transformed an apartment in Paris's Saint-Germain-des-Prés into a captivating blend of classical French elements and contemporary innovation. Bold colors, unique shapes, and diverse influences create a space that defies convention, showcasing Toro's unbounded creativity and passion for pushing design boundaries.
  • September 20, 2023
  • Jenn Thornton

A Duplex in the Clouds: Inside Barbara Cartategui’s NYC Transformation

Nestled on the 78th and 79th floors of a Tribeca skyscraper, this New York City duplex boasts breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline. Transformed by Workshop/APD, the interior is a gallery of contemporary art curated by expert art advisor Barbara Cartategui.
  • September 6, 2023
  • Karine Monié

Sterling-Huddleson Architecture’s the Edge Residence in Pebble Beach

The Edge, a stunning contemporary home located in the picturesque community of Pebble Beach, California, is a masterful creation by Sterling-Huddleson Architecture. The result is a breathtaking residence that seamlessly blends advanced building technology and timeless contemporary design.
  • August 23, 2023
  • Jenn Thornton

Of Possible Unveils Stunning Loft Living Concept in Williamsburg

Explore the soon-to-be-completed building at 103 Grand Street, Williamsburg, offering three units designed to capture the spirit of this historic area. Led by Rise Development and architect Vincent Appel of Of Possible, each unit boasts its own outdoor space and a seamless connection between interior and exterior.
  • July 13, 2023
  • Karine Monié

Elevating Tropical Modernism: Evan Edward’s Stunning Biscayne Bay House

This sleek tropical masterpiece in Biscayne Bay, Florida by architecture and interior design practice Evan Edward seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor spaces, embracing the warm climate and scenic surroundings. With a focus on fluidity and functionality, the 5,000 square foot home combining midcentury tropical modernism with European art deco influences, the interior design features a harmonious blend of materials and textures.
  • July 13, 2023
  • Karine Monié
Sign Up for DIGS Newsletters