Tea Smith

London E1

This 125 sq.m project was the strip out and subsequent fit-out of a Victorian Grade 2 listed shop unit within Spitalfields Market.

The accommodation is arranged over the ground and basement floors.

The ground floor is for the retailing/merchandise storage of upmarket Asian teas. There is a tasting counter with bar stools at one end for customers to try the various teas before purchasing or just to drink tea.

The general concept is one of reinterpretation/modernising of traditional oriental images and experiences without immediate reference. It is about demystifying and re-connecting with the lost tradition of tea drinking by suggesting origins without actually physically needing to be in China or Japan i.e. you can be in London or any other city or town. The aim is to surprise or challenge people with the design without scaring them with culturally specific references.

The long joinery wall serves both to display the product within mirrored spot-lit open boxes and also for product storage behind backlit spun vinyl screens which were made from material normally used for place mats. All the joinery is purpose made from specifically distressed stained pitch pine. The basement is more specialised with linen curtains wrapping around the perimeter and teapot displays within suspended spot-lit perspex boxes hanging from the ceiling.

We were also responsible for the design and implementation of the signage and graphics throughout.

Many thanks again for your diligence on the project. You are (almost) worth your weight in tea. Customers love our space. I'm frequently asked 'who designed it?' This is helping the teas to sell themselves. We're delighted, and very grateful.

John Kennedy, TeaSmith

Awards

• The Architects' Journal Small Projects Award - Finalist
• Time Out Eating & Drinking Awards 2008 - Runner up

Publications

Magazines:

• The Architects' Journal, 11 January 2007
• Elle Decoration, May 2007
• Hospitality Interiors, April/May 2007
• Time Out, February 2007
• Wallpaper, March 2007

Books:

• &Life, Published May 2007