If you were to peek through the Instagram messages between Julie and myself, you’d find that mostly, lately, we’ve been sending each other posts from @daenewyork: a bow-bedecked pillow, teeny tiny pats of butter in the shape of fish, a gleaming stainless steel counter.
Dae is a cafe, design shop, and event space on Smith Street in Brooklyn, the work of Carol Song and Suea Cho, who first met working as buyers at Opening Ceremony. We talked to Carol by phone: “We want to create our whole lives,” she says. “We’ve always been obsessed with Korean cafes, and they’re always ever changing, they’re always beautiful, and we knew that that was missing here.”
The duo looked for just the right spot: “We always knew we wanted to do it in Brooklyn. I always wanted a space that wasn’t heavily foot trafficked by tourists; I just wanted it to be more peaceful. Our dream was always to be three doors down from a corner, but this was the closest to it”—it’s a corner space—”and we fell in love pretty much right away.” Then came a year of transforming the totally blank space into a modern and bright cafe, enlisting friends from the set design team at JCrew and more than a few Korean makers, and occasionally doing battle with the City over the permits required to turn a real estate agency into a functioning restaurant.
The result is a space that’s intentionally simple in its components—a stainless-steel bar, blocky wood furniture—but with delightful, ever-changing details: plates stamped DAE, silverware sourced from hotels, a rotating array of handmade wares in the shop section. “People come in and say, ‘This is so fresh,’ but really it’s very much a Korean café,” Carol says.
Dae has only been open for three months, but Tiktokers and Instagrammers wasted no time finding it—and staged so many full-on photoshoots that taking photos inside has been (largely) banned. Fortunately, Carol and Suea shared all the details with us. Here’s a look inside, with lessons from just a few of Dae’s genius design moments.
Photography courtesy of Dae New York.
1. Select a timeless palette.
It’s a clean backdrop for what the duo hopes will be an ever-changing space: “We were buyers before, so every season I was like, What’s the new concept? We are both always looking for what’s new and trying to figure out how to keep it evolving.”
2. Mix knock-offs with the real thing.
3. Make stainless the centerpiece.
4. Take cues from hotel silver service.
5. Make simple things delightful.
6. Ask: Is it special? Can it live forever?
7. Channel museums.
8. Wrap in cloth.
9. Don’t forget the sound system.
10. Put your stamp on it.
11. Put a twist on tradition.
For more, head to Dae New York.
And for more three more inventive cafes, have a look at:
- Jolene in London: 7 Simple, Budget Ideas to Steal from the Year’s Most Rustic Bakery
- Kafeteria and Kunst: A New Copenhagen Cafe by Frederik Bille Brahe and Danh Vo
- Design Travel: An Italian Chef and a Danish Baker at Marigold in Rome
Frequently asked questions
What is the concept behind Dae Guek?
Dae Guek is a Korean-inspired cafe in New York City that combines traditional Korean design elements with modern aesthetics. It aims to create a unique space that celebrates Korean culture and offers a cozy atmosphere for customers.
Where is Dae Guek located?
Dae Guek is located in New York City. The exact address can be found on their website or by contacting them directly.
What type of food and drinks does Dae Guek offer?
Dae Guek offers a variety of Korean-inspired food and drinks. Their menu includes traditional Korean dishes such as bibimbap, kimchi pancakes, and Korean fried chicken. They also serve a range of beverages, including specialty teas and Korean-inspired cocktails.
Can I make a reservation at Dae Guek?
Yes, Dae Guek accepts reservations. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance, especially during peak hours, to ensure a table.
Does Dae Guek offer vegetarian or vegan options?
Yes, Dae Guek offers vegetarian and vegan options on their menu. They understand the importance of catering to different dietary preferences and strive to provide options for all customers.
Is Dae Guek child-friendly?
Yes, Dae Guek is child-friendly and welcomes families with children. They have a relaxed atmosphere that is suitable for all ages.
Do they offer takeaway or delivery services?
Yes, Dae Guek offers both takeaway and delivery services. Customers can place orders through their website or popular food delivery platforms.
Are there any special events or promotions at Dae Guek?
Dae Guek occasionally hosts special events and promotions. It is recommended to check their website or social media accounts for updates on any ongoing or upcoming events.
Does Dae Guek have free Wi-Fi?
Yes, Dae Guek provides free Wi-Fi for its customers. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while staying connected.
What are the opening hours of Dae Guek?
The opening hours of Dae Guek may vary. It is best to refer to their website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on their operating hours.