Just off Second Avenue in Manhattan’s East Village, bright lights and expansive windows welcome passersby from 5th Street. Here, at the heart of the historic Little Ukraine neighbourhood, the first New York outpost of tea shop Spiritea introduces a tranquil yet dynamic space to the city.
From the street, one can glimpse eye-catching neon lights. Behind the glass, a sculptural ceiling-suspended light installation hints at the contours inside, while “Spiritea” is spelled out in neon cursive on the glass and behind the central counter. According to New Practice Studio, “Spiritea is conceived as a freshly playful environment with a sense of fusion between Western and Eastern tea culture.”
Designed by local firm New Practice Studio, Spiritea’s curved edges and soft pastel tones make the 167-square-metre space a quiet haven. Grounded by the muted pink hue that spans the ceiling and carries into the furnishings, a colour palette of blue and green accents emphasizes the curvature of the banquettes and bar, shaping the undulations into a signature feature of the space.
While the shop’s sense of openness makes for an airy and comfortable environment, the unencumbered layout also emphasizes the preparation and serving of tea as a highlight of the experience.
“The centrally located bar island is highlighted by an elongated cylindrical ceiling geometry above. Together they showcase the elegant process of teamaking while anchoring the space,” the designers note.
At the heart of the space, a curved marble counter puts the tea-making process on full display. Paired with an extruded ceiling that draws the eye to the curving form below, the elegant counter is framed as a sort of stage for the careful craft of the workers.
Custom-made furnishings create Spiritea’s signature contours. Resting atop slender bronze rods, the benches are topped by comfortable and slightly whimsical foam tubes.
Although the space maintains an impressive sense of visual purity and cohesion, the addition of a curated contemporary art program – featuring work from students at China’s Tsinghua University – introduces vital notes of complexity to the otherwise pared-down interior.
The motif of curvature is also carried through into the small bathroom at the back of the space, creating a surprising sense of depth.
Inside a heritage building where much of the historic structure had to be kept fully intact, the little tea shop makes a deceptively big statement.
The first New York outpost of Spiritea, designed by New Practice Studio, quietly catches the eye.