Stonemill Matcha engaged Studio BBA to design their first tea café location in the U.S. market—for our focus on creating architecture that inspires authentic customer experiences, as well as our expertise in destination café design.
Like the Japanese tea ceremony itself, our design centered on the spirit of transformation and translation, and imparting a mindful experience. The resulting aesthetic is a deep and purposeful melding of two cultures and of function and beauty—with finishes and a composition grounded in Japanese traditional design and ritual, in a space infused with local flavor.
In particular, Stonemill Matcha’s private tea room blossomed into an exceptionally special place for San Francisco—exuding materiality, tradition, serenity and calm. Soft lighting cascades over the surfaces, and a washi art installation by Eriko Horiki graces the back wall.
Before we began the project it was critical to the Stonemill owners that we experience the art of the ancient tea ceremony at its source; to truly understand the ritual and its embodiment. We were invited to Japan and given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture: attending modern, historic and combination ceremonies, staying at a historic Ryokan, meditating in a Kyoto temple, and delighting in the local arts, stores and restaurants.
Through our schematic design process we distilled these influences into a totem of sorts, representing to us the idea of these two cultures coming together—a matchstick. The matchstick was chosen for its essential component properties of wood, extruded square, orthogonal strength and scalability, and was used in conceptual modeling for the café’s spatial elements.