Japanese cult coffee brand % ARABICA inaugurated its first outpost in China only three years ago. Growing exponentially across the planet, expansion in this vast consumer market is keeping up, and the company’s 57th outpost has recently opened its doors in Chengdu. Already home to three branches, it’s the first time however that % ARABICA has ventured outside the booming downtown area, setting up shop in the city’s Hi-Tech Zone. The new café is situated at Chengdu Regular Shopping Centre, occupying a compact 75 sqm. (807 sq.ft.) unit with an adjacent outdoor courtyard. The interior design, created by Paris-based architecture practice ARCHIEE, is an all-white minimalist fusion of Japanese, French and Chinese cultures, pairing Japanese minimal design, Parisian café culture, and quite fittingly, also Chinese landscaping. The chosen aesthetic sees a horizontal composition with a suggested mirrored reflection between the upper and lower section, and is in fact a contemporary interpretation of traditional Chinese landscapes where landmarks are reflected onto water.
Locals can admire the historic Anshun Bridge and its reflection on Jin River while sipping tea, and this notion has been recreated with a clear buffer zone between the entrance and the service counter, captured by a sculptural tunnel-like element, crafted from a welded 9mm steel plate dipped in white paint, that boldly takes centre stage in the setting. Interestingly, passing through this steel tunnel turns into an immersive experience with a unique sound and feeling. The construction of the entrance also aims to beckon people inside, creating a flow of people between the courtyard and the café, mimicking the buzz often found at cafés in the French capital. Both the façade and the counters inside are covered in Corian, adding to a coherent feel. The menu at the new % ARABICA café lists classic coffee concoctions,, such as espresso and caffe latte, but also drip-based options, lemonades, a variety of coffee beans, and presented on a special shelving unit, is a concise collection of branded lifestyle items for the most avid of fans.
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