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An SF Book Shop Inspired by Esprit

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An SF Book Shop Inspired by Esprit

January 25, 2013

Paulina Nassar, co-owner of Press: Works on Paper in San Francisco, looked to the design sensibility of the 1980s in her book shop's design.

"When we first took over the space it was a disaster. Purple and black paint everywhere, terrifying fluorescent lighting, and ugly, uneven beams," says Paulina. "The most important thing we wanted was a feeling of brightness and vibrancy." A self-proclaimed devotee of Memphis Design and the graphics and color palette of Esprit, Paulina incorporated touches of Lucite, green neon, and display pieces "reminiscent of a 1980s retail space: white metal pegboards, grid walls, acrylic book stands and pen cups." With custom pine shelving designed by SF-based Sergio Traverso and white-washed walls, the bleached interior allows the small press titles and paper products to stand out. "While we love and support the idea of DIY, we also know its limitations. It usually ends up being 'DIT' (Do It Together)," says Nassar, who worked with local contractors and friends to pull the space together.

Before opening Press, Nassar's partner, Nick Sarno, worked in bookstores and as the founding editor of Chicago-based Green Lantern Press. Paulina and Nick had always talked about opening up a shop, but felt that the traditional bookstore model was no longer sustainable. So they shifted their focus away from big publishing houses to small press poetry and prose, along with carefully curated paper-related items.

Press holds frequent readings and is hosting one with SF-based journal Fourteen Hills on Friday, January 5th, beginning at 7pm. For more information, visit Press: Works on Paper.

Photography by Jon Porras.

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Above: "Our neon sign is a true dream come true for a child of the 1980s," says Paulina: "I can now die a happy woman."

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Above: A collection of art and photography titles that are mostly out of print, along with used vintage modern library editions. The shop also sells E+M pens and mechanical pencils, made in Germany from sustainable wood, as well as a selection of canvas backpacks and book bags.

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Above: "I love all things 1980s Esprit: the spirit and ingenuity of the original founders, the color palette, the packaging, the designs of the store fronts, their old SF offices, but especially the joyousness," says Paulina. Nine green barn-style pendant lamps hang in the store, echoing the staple lighting choice of old Esprit offices.

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Above: The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore's Super White (also a favorite white of Brooklyn-based Delson or Sherman Architects) and the floors are painted in Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe.

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Above: Cultish magazines from Here and There to Purple Fashion and Self Service are illuminated by the neon sign in the window.

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Above: The shop's branding was designed by Brent Freaney, "the wavy e is a loving homage to Esprit as well as the symbol of the pages of a book."

N.B.: Looking for more places to visit in San Francisco. See 113 more locations in our San Francisco City Guide.

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