Excerpt: The tea colour serves as a visual focal point and a means for fusing the Chagee Tea Bar’s decor with the brand’s culture and goods in this Still Young interior design project. Tea culture’s aesthetics constitute the root of the Tea Bar’s design concept. The grottoes of Dunhuang act as an inspiration for the interior design. Minimalist structures and unique forms are created, evoking a sense of compactness in a tunnel.
[Text as submitted by architect] In China, tea drinking has emerged as a popular social activity among the young generation, integrating into their daily work and life routines. Traditional teahouses, specialty tea shops, innovative tea beverages, and cosy tea rooms are fiercely competing as the tea and coffee markets gradually converge. In this environment of product refinement and escalating competition, the question arises: how can brands consistently attract the favour of young consumers, and how can they cultivate a genuine love for oriental tea among the youth?
To answer, CHAGEE initiated its “Tea Bar” concept and collaborated with STILL YOUNG to develop two concept stores at Global Harbor and Metro City in Shanghai.
Kick off a new journey for CHAGEE: The Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, the origin of tea trees, is also the birthplace of CHAGEE. With a vision to lead the revival of Chinese tea, CHAGEE reinterprets the essence of oriental tea culture and, in just six years, has achieved remarkable success with over 2,000 stores. From Kunming to overseas, it has emerged as a leading modern tea beverage brand.
“The design of these two flagship stores in Shanghai, including the overall style, product range, interior design, cultural elements, and conceptual expressions, all revolve around the innovative interpretation of contemporary young people’s tea culture.” by representatives of the CHAGEE brand.
The Global Harbor is a prominent shopping mall in the Putuo District, exerting significant influence within the surrounding business district. On the other hand, the Metro City serves as a hub in driving trends in the Xujiahui commercial area. The brand has decided to elevate its presence by upgrading and establishing a brand-new flagship store in these locations.
Both flagship stores have different layouts. The Global Harbor flagship store features a medium to large tea beverage space with a central island-style seating arrangement, divided into four main areas: premium tea-making, dine-in ordering, takeaway counter, and tea-tasting section. On the other hand, the Metro City flagship store has completely transformed the surrounding exterior space of the mall, incorporating both indoor functional areas and outdoor leisure zones. Additionally, both stores have installed folding windows on one side, blurring the boundary between the interior and exterior, thus enhancing the sense of openness within the space.
Extract the colour tone of tea to create a memorable brand identity: In considering the spatial colour palette, the brand and design team drew initial inspiration from the elements of gold, wood, water, fire, and earth, tracing their roots back to the millennium-old tea culture. Integrated the Silk Road and the ancient Tea Horse Road into the concept, all while being inspired by the movie “Dune.” Ultimately, the design ideas converged around the primary tone of the tea colour. The fusion of light golden tea, pure white milk, and a desert ambiance creates a unique brand tone and memorable experience.
According to the founder of STILL YOUNG, the colour of tea is iconic. They hope there will be a shared global understanding about the colour of tea drinking space. The tea colour, as a visual focal point, becomes a medium that blends the space with the brand’s culture and products.
The colour of white tea is applied to walls, ceilings, floors, the brewing counters, and seats in tandem with a delicate and soft matting texture. The custom-made devices at the bar counter combine the colour of black tea with a unique appearance that gives off an enchanting sheen of metal. The combination of two materials creates a clean and unified visual language.
Draw on tea culture, from the ancient Tea Horse Road to the Silk Road: The tea culture of China can be traced back thousands of years, from the stories of Shennong and Lu Yu to the ancient Tea Horse Road and Silk Road. The prosperous tea culture can also be found in hundreds of classics about tea.
The design concept of Tea Bar is rooted in the aesthetics of tea culture. The R&D team incorporated the art of the Tang dynasties and elements about the Silk Road into large-scale installations to create visual focal points within the space. As an extension of the brand logo “C”, one of the installations uses glazes that combine pottery and porcelain to highlight a sense of history and culture. The wall painting depicting the Silk Road symbolises the interaction between the East and the West. A special technique is employed to mimic the effect of sand blowing in the wind, conveying an epic ambience.
The interior design draws inspiration from the grottoes in Dunhuang. A unified colour scheme is applied to the walls and the ceiling. Minimalist structures and unique forms are created, evoking a sense of compactness in a tunnel.
Different seating options are provided to meet various needs, such as socialising and working. Wood, bamboo, and rattan elements are combined with large areas of plants, conveying a relaxing and cosy ambience within the space. The bar seating behind the windows provides plugs to meet the needs of customers working in the store.
TEA BAR that strengthens the interaction between tea baristas and customers: The “Tea Bar” concept spaces are based on the prototype of a teamaking workshop. An 8-metre-long bar counter is home to a set of custom-made devices. The circulation route of this area is designed to meet the needs for “ordering, brewing, and pickup” to ensure the efficiency of the tea baristas and a smooth consumer experience.
“We approach the design based on the brand’s philosophy, and we care how the design can be replicated as a module at a higher speed,” said the founder of STILL YOUNG. “The devices at Tea Bar demonstrate an update in the interaction between baristas and consumers, which is a focus of the design. Then we build a brand new third space in the field of tea beverages. This is what we have agreed upon with the brand side.”
The design of the bar intentionally minimises visual distraction and makes the products and tea baristas the protagonists of the space. The bar counter becomes the stage for baristas, allowing customers to watch every procedure of tea beverage making, from grinding, extracting, and pouring brewed tea, in an immersive way.
The teamaking devices enable a simpler teamaking process than the traditional practise. The complicated procedures are reduced to the more efficient practise of extraction. The devices, including the grinder, the tea-and-coffee maker, the POS machine, and the receipt printer, are all finished with a bronze stainless-steel film, a Michelin-level detail that aims to present the sophistication of new-style tea drinks. A set of dark bronze tea pots is displayed on the wall behind the bar counter, while a long, thin strip of warm light connects the entire space and guides the sightlines of customers.
Through the collaboration between the brand and the design team, the two Tea Bar stores in Shanghai will become new models to kick off a fresh journey for CHAGEE. The two parties have agreed to continue to improve the design of the stores based on market feedback and will replicate the design in a wider and deeper way to continue exploring updated interactions with consumers.