A bubble tea shop creates a micro-forest in the middle of a crowded Chinese city

Shanghai – To put it lightly, commercial real estate space in Nanchang Road is prohibitive – it’s barely one block away from Huaihai Road, the spot of choice for many international luxury brands. So why would Mistea, a bubble tea shop, devote precious square meters to creating a small forest for its customers?

That’s because design studio Mintwow figured out that as much as rushed visitors in crowded Shanghai want the quick and sweet comfort of milk, black tea and tapioca balls, they’re also looking for the type of physical comfort that goes beyond the plastic cup. Enter the embrace of small doses of nature in the middle of the city, a space that the Mintwow team has aptly described as a psychedelic micro-forest.

The whole setup looks like a miniature Lothlorien on acid

How so? For starters, a river runs through its 40 sq-m – that is, a sinuous flowing stream made of dark green ceramic flooring that separates the counter from the seating area. The ceiling, covered in scrunched metallic lining, reflects a series of lights to create an aurora borealis effect – nature’s fireworks that can, appropriately, only be seen far from urban concentrations. But the highlight of the space, and its most direct sylvan reference, is the group of seven bright-green acrylic columns, a sprinkling of tree-like structures that emerge randomly from the floor. The whole setup looks like a miniature Lothlorien on acid.

The result? Foot traffic is surprisingly high for a café of its kind, even in this location – as small as the store is, pedestrians find themselves attracted to it like moths to a neon green flame.


Location 87 Nanchang Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai

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