In 2015, the first shop of SWEET 7 was launched in Suzhou. In the same year, it is also its first time to open a shop in a mall of Suzhou. After 6 years of development in the Yangtze River Delta, SWEET 7 has become one of the top brands in the RTD tea industry. With the improvement of brand power, SWEET 7 would like to go back to its origin and commission MOC to redesign this monumental storefront.
SWEET 7 came from Suzhou, so it wants to combine Suzhou elements in this monumental shop to express its connection with the city. How to present Suzhou elements and Suzhou impressions in the store becomes the top priority. However, the excessive presentation of urban culture often makes a commercial space empty and tedious. So how to use local cultural elements to empower the brand is the urgent issue to address.
01 Creating a Garden: Responding to the Humanistic History of Jiangnan
When it comes to Suzhou, the first impression must be “Gardens”.
▲园林印象 Garden impression
As an important world cultural heritage, Jiangnan gardens are a combination of houses and gardens for the purposes of appreciation, amusement, and habitation. This architectural form was developed in a densely populated city that lacks natural beauty. Its creation was for people to pursue nature, aspire to nature and improve their living environment. In addition, the Chinese philosophy, history and humanity in the gardens of Jiangnan are the symbol and quintessence of humanistic and historical traditions and local customs in this area. This landscape garden style has a unique historical status and significant artistic value in the history of gardens in the world.
After an in-depth understanding of the spirit of gardens, MOC extracts, dissembles and reconstructs the elements of the gardens in Jiangnan. In this space, customers are introduced to the Suzhou impressions in the eyes of SWEET 7. The brand hopes its customers can appreciate the beauty of the garden through a small store.
▲冲孔板制作的现代屋檐掩映下的传统屋檐 Traditional eaves under the cover of modern eaves made of perforated panels.
MOC incorporates Suzhou architecture and Jiangnan garden style, and reinterprets it with a modern approach – the color palette combines the traditional white walls and black tiles. But its presentation is very modern. The minimal black and white are set against the warm lighting, which creates a casual atmosphere in the courtyard.
▲轴测说明 Axonometric projection
▲现代手法演绎的白墙黛瓦 Modern interpretation of white walls and black tiles
A semi-transparent effect is formed by fine metal perforated panels. The stacking layers of panels come into the shape of the eaves in the Jiangnan water village. It outlines the connection between the building and the courtyard within the space layout. The façade is made of white polymer clay wall panels as its unadorned texture echoes the eaves and carved wooden windows of the traditional building façade.
▲细密的冲孔板弯曲并叠加形成屋檐，隐约透出暖色灯光 Fine perforated panels are bent and overlapped to form the eaves, with warm light faintly coming through.
▲现代的屋檐和墙体与传统屋檐和木窗相对而立，勾勒出院落形态 The modern eaves and walls stand opposite to the traditional eaves and wooden windows, which outlines a courtyard.
The illuminated ceiling made from soft film creates the outdoor atmosphere. The overall color palette of black and white gives customers the first impression of the shop theme.
▲从通道看向室内庭院 Looking into the indoor courtyard from the passage
▲定制家具细节 Details of customized furniture
02 Stillness vs. Dynamics: No Water, No Garden
There’s no garden without water. Water is the soul of Jiangnan gardens.
MOC has designed an indoor courtyard at the back of the space with an elaborate layout. A flowing water installation is along the wall and the seats are by the water. While sipping tea, customers hear the gurgling water at different heights, which is a balance of stillness and dynamics.
▲流水装置和座位细节 Flowing water installation and details of seating.
Suzhou has a mild climate and a rich silk and mulberry industry. It has produced silk and cloth since ancient times. In the courtyard, woven metal nets are adopted by MOC as to imitate the weaving pattern of silk and create the effect of the semi-transparent white veil. The space is illuminated with a lighting film box in the ceiling. The garden atmosphere is accented with the hazy view through the white veil amidst the sound of flowing water.
▲金属网的编织肌理回应了布料的织造纹理 The woven texture of metal net responds to the weaving fabric.
▲沿墙设置的流水装置，为坐饮增添几许意趣 The flowing water installation along the wall enhances the mood for tea drinking.
The overall tone of the space and the delicate decorations makes it slow and quiet, while the movement of the water inadvertently brings a pure and fresh experience.
▲结合传统家具结构定制的空间家具 Customized furniture in traditional style.
03 Form vs. Color: A Holistic Brand Image
Combining with the theme of the space, MOC unifies the brand elements that appear within the shop space. In line with the overall cultural connotation of the space, the visual standard of the brand enhances the integration of the brand and local culture.
At the entrance, the brand signature “7” stands in the waterscape, like a rockery blending into the landscape. It fits into the overall spatial style, without losing its branding.
▲从入口处看向室内 Looking from the entrance into the interior
The original font for the brand is replaced with a custom calligraphic font. With the handwritten English font, it matches the elegant tone of the whole space.
▲针对该门店定制的行楷字体 Customized font for the storefront
▲植物掩映下的自助柜台 The self-service counter through the plants
Enjoying the slow Suzhou and tasting SWEET 7. When young people are sipping tea and sitting in front of the traditional window, they experience the beauty of the garden back in time and space, which is another exploration of traditional culture by MOC in the context of the times.
Project Name: SWEET 7, Garden Theme Shop
Chief Designers: Liang Ningsen, Wu Xiuwei
Project Director: Yang Zhenyu
Space Design Team: Zhuang Yicheng, Hu Qiao, Wu Xinhong
Graphic Design Team: Xiao Tie, Pichan, Xie Xinyu
Client Team: Sun Changyuan, Ao Jiao, Feng Jiajun
Design Phase: April – June 2021
Completion: July 2021
Location: 1F AEON Mall, Suzhou Industrial Park
Materials: Perforated metal panels, polymer clay panels, grey granite, metal nets
Client: SWEET 7
Copywriter: Yang Zhenyu, Wu Xiuwei
Translation: Ke Qingya