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PURE NFTEA is a tea brand situated in C Future City, Futian District, Shenzhen. Owned by a young entrepreneur whose family has been in the tea business for decades, with their own tea plantation and factory, the brand’s name “PURE” is a transliteration of “Pu’er”. As a young individual, the client hopes to interpret tea culture in a fresh way, challenge young people’s perceptions of Chinese tea, introduce tea to the younger generation, and establish a trendy tea beverage brand that appeals to them.

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“We aim to let tea culture speak to young people rather than asking them to learn about it.” To that end, EK Design creatively reinterpreted the space by renovating the spatial layout and combining new ideas with old structures. By making use of the terroir of tea, the design team also transformed traditional spatial experiences and created a dynamic conflict that appeals to younger generations and engages them in tea culture.”

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The space is comprised of both indoor and outdoor areas, both of which have a triangular horizontal plane. In terms of spatial relations, the tea store and the shopping mall where it sits mutually attract traffic. Therefore, the designers faced more challenges in creating an independent style, but also had more freedom to put inspiration into practice, which means “more openness, freedom, and creativity”.

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To tackle the challenge of the acute triangle horizontal plane, which is considered a “negative space” in architecture, the design team maximized the use of the space while minimizing the sense of narrowness.

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First, the designers utilized the existing conditions by adding beams, which are parallel to the triangle, to the existing columns and creating new decorative columns at the joints. The next step was creating passages out of the angles, thus making use of the corners.

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In this way, an asymmetrical yet balanced frame was constructed on the horizontal plane, defining a new space in a deconstructive manner. One side of the triangle becomes a display and operation platform to keep the kitchen out of sight. One side becomes the storefront and bar counter to connect with the public area of the shopping mall, and the other side is left open to connect with the outdoor space and embrace nature.

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Rather than adopting the traditional array arrangement of mortise-and-tenon structures, the design team opted for an irregular structure in a deconstructive way. This resulted in an asymmetrical balance between the floor and elevation, infusing the space with a sense of modernity.

Beneath the weathered and rough texture of the columns lies the source of lighting, symbolizing the future and technology, and creating a stark contrast between the past and the future.

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The red soil of Yiwu has a saturated color that resembles Pu’er tea. It is the perfect soil for nourishing Pu’er trees. In the project, the design team extracted the natural colors of both the soil and tea to showcase the unique terroir of Pu’er and the rich history of Chinese tea.

Weathered red soil has a mottled texture that gives off an ancient vibe. The red finishes replicate the weathered fracture surface of the soil visually and tactilely. The black volcanic stone slabs create an interesting contrast with the “red soil”, depicting the ancient natural evolution process.

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Project Name: PURE NFTEA; Design Team: YuQiang & Partners, EK Design; Soft Fitting Design: PP Design Gallery; Completion time: 2023; Area: 200 square meters; Location: Shenzhen, China; Photographs: Jack Qin, Hongyan Zhang;

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