Functional by Design

Bonus Web Content

Sencha Tea Bar, Minneapolis

Designer: Shea

Highlight: Rotating tea rack

Sencha 1 Shea Credit Travis AndersonSencha photos courtesy of Travis Anderson

With tea beginning to rival coffee as the basis for specialty concepts, Minneapolis-based Sencha Tea Bar sought stronger competitive positioning and prepped for expansion with a recent rebranding and reimaging effort. “We created a new brand identity for them but our solution for the physical design was not to emulate coffee bars, where you just order at the counter, get your drink and walk away or go sit down. Rather, we decided to create an actual tea bar so customers can sit and taste and learn about teas and engage with the server behind the counter, almost like you would at a cocktail bar,” says Spaulding.

Sencha 2 Shea Credit Travis Anderson

The bar was designed in a circular shape and placed toward the front of the store to maximize visibility both from outside and as customers enter. And to manage the concept’s need to both display and store a wide variety of teas, the team created a circular overhead tea rack. “It rotates and holds their entire inventory of tea. When a staff member is engaging with a guest, all they have to do is step up, reach up and rotate the rack to find what they want,” Spaulding says. “So it’s a great for storage, it’s a great organizational tool, and a great visual at the same time.”

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