31 Jul 2019 • Lauren Grace Morris
A new bubble tea space in Shenzhen attracts contemporary café-goers
A new destination for bubble tea fans has come to Shenzhen. Ambrosia, designed by Melbourne-based design and architecture studio Biasol, is a fresh competitor in the Chinese market for the Taiwanese drink. The café pops up at a time when the tea market is steadily redirecting its priorities in China. As Biasol has designed multiple locations for popular London coffee and restaurant brand Grind, the studio had the experience needed to deliver a fashionable space that’d become a successful destination in this evolving context.
The market for bubble tea, specifically, is blowing up to the tune of over 582 million euros, according to CITIC Security, the country’s largest full-service investment bank. Chinese millennials and Gen Z-ers aren’t as invested in traditional tea culture anymore, instead attracted to the allure that coffee culture – with its well-designed cafés and its emphasis on artisan brews – brings to the table. Biasol’s work method is integrated; for this project, the studio was responsible for crafting the name, branding and spatial concept.
With our recent projects in China, our clients represent a new generation, changing the way design is perceived in the country
‘With our recent projects in China, our clients represent a new generation, changing the way design is perceived in the country,’ said Jean-Pierre Biasol, founder of the studio. ‘They are second or third-generation locals, all internationally educated and with a global appreciation for design. They all have two things in common: One, they want to reinstate a reputation for good design quality, originality and authenticity in China. And two, they choose to work with an international studio because they believe we can bring something different to the world through our international approach and design sensibilities.’
Ambrosia, in his words, was designed as a lifestyle product. To differentiate the project in a saturated market, the clients crafted a mission centred on serving drinks made of loose-leaf tea and honey of highest quality. The space needed to represent that mindfulness to detail: Biasol based its form off of traditional Chinese courtyard houses and paifang – a traditional style of arched gateways – using a light, earthy palette in pink hues to liven the atmosphere (and, of course, appeal to Instagram super-fans of the colour). Fibonacci Stone’s Pavlova terrazzo surfacing lives on the floors, counter, tables and walls, and bubble-like pendant lights hang above the counter, hinting at the tea-making going on behind-the-scenes.