Snapshot: Mexican multi-disciplinary design firm Savvy Studio developed the Tomas tea house, an establishment that curates the cultural traditions of Tea preparation and consumption with a museum-like aptitude, all in a comfortable and inviting interior that facilitates customer engagement and appreciation.
Tea is an emotional as well as informational medium of human-biological engagement, each flavor or scent inciting a sensory reaction while conveying a distinct character constructed from a unique cultural or global heritage. Monterrey, Mexico based firm Savvy Studio designed and developed Tomas, Casa Editora de Te, whose curated selection of teas allows for the history, tradition, and culture of the original homes of their products are displayed as the products themselves are sampled and experienced via Savvy’s design of the tea house.
Savvy is perfectly situated to harmonize the demands of modern merchandising with the unique and multi-varied qualities each tea brand, as it is a comprehensive and multidisciplinary design firm composed of graphic designers, marketers, communication specialists, industrial designers, creative copywriters, and architects, whose world-wide collaborations have led to creative and innovative design solutions that maintain an edge in global competition. As if to celebrate the idea of heritage and cultural legacy, Tomas is named for the Thomas Sullivan, a New York based merchant who patented the first tea bag.
While the metallic swirls of the entrance gate and the outside chair and table set hint at maybe an art nouveau or francophonic design, this is interestingly not the case, and is dispelled by an interior that is simple and clean rather than complex and decadent. Mind-body health is a mentality from which Savvy’s daily lifestyle-oriented design sprung up. The main room introduces products and scents that have been codified into a complex graphic system Tomas developed that would pictorially distinguish, categorize, and emphasize the qualities of each product. An experiential bar located further indoors allows for scents and fragrances to be sampled and enjoyed, while illumination is sufficiently supplied by way of enormous overhanging black lamps.
Perhaps “decadent” is too strong a word when “romantic” will do quite fine to describe the atmosphere surrounding tea culture in the past few centuries. Here, those romantic elements are updated into a modern setting. Earth tones that readily reflect the varieties tea leaves are set against (and set off by) a canvas of sea blue, with which the walls are painted. The palette brings clients into harmony with the products Tomas offers, and is accented by everything from the plants placed atop counters to the multi-colored pattern evinced by the labels on jars behind those counters. The woodwork is a central locus of the colors as well, and that of the floor not only captures the colors but compresses them into v-shaped designs.
The furniture is welcomingly minimal in design, contributing to an air of casual indulgence befitting an afternoon break rather than an evening of lounging. This goes for the “coffee” tables as well, which are marble slabs on top of wooden frames and legs with a small leafed vase decorating the center. Smooth wooden surfaces proliferate, everything from counters to flooring to armrests, all of them glistening in the light matching with basically every other color Savvy has included in this interior. Tomas’ pictorial predilections are displayed on the walls in drawings that illustrate the rituals surrounding tea preparation and consumption, drawn with a careful hand and possessing a childlike charm. There are francophonic neo-classical moldings inside that are painted the same shade of blue as the walls upon which they are affixed, which is an interesting choice: the molding of course stands out no matter what color it is painted, but matching it with the rest of the wall contributes to the global impression of a harmonization, universality, and broken-down cultural barriers that has been a part of recent tea and coffee culture. Additionally, such harmony figures prominently into Tomas’ emphasis on mind-body health.
Savvy has done an amazing job at small-business professionalism, their graphic designers turning out everything from business cards to menus to cup warmers that are uniting by the nuanced use of the same font and color scheme of whites and grays. That “T” logo displayed on so many of its articles, signs, and shopping bags is both “Tomas” and “Tea/Te,” which is smile-inducing to think about not to mention see in person. This design unity shows off the comprehensiveness Savvy is known for, the team covering all grounds and all facets of its projects in a process while maintaining the distinct mark of Tomas’ collaborative influence throughout the whole process.
Photography courtesy of Savvy Studio