Dezeen Magazine

Interior Shanghai coffee shop with tiled bar and triangular paper lamp

Traditional Chinese roof tiles decorate the interior of Blue Bottle Coffee shop in Shanghai

Japanese studio Keiji Ashizawa Design has used traditional Chinese roof tiles as the key material at Blue Bottle Coffee's latest shop in Shanghai to celebrate local culture.

Set to open on Friday, the cafe is located on the first and second floors of a building connected to the Kerry Centre in downtown Shanghai, close to the over 1,000-year-old Jing'an Temple.

Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai shop exterior
The new Blue Bottle Coffee shop is located in downtown Shanghai

Keiji Ashizawa Design placed a total of 13,000 handmade brick tiles on the bar counter, stairwell wall and the lounge area of the cafe.

This particular type of bricks, which have semi-circular edges, were made in Yixing, a nearby city that is known for its clayware manufacturing. A new smoking process was used for the surface of the tiles to increase their strength and create a subtle reflective effect.

Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai bar counter
Bespoke handmade brick tiles were used to cover the bar counter

"As Blue Bottle Coffee commits to create local communities around their cafes, we always determine the materials and design based on the local, both culture and history," studio founder Keiji Ashizawa said.

"Working on a project in mainland China as a Japanese architectural firm, I felt that there was an importance in considering the common aspects between the two cultures," he added.

"With that in mind, we looked through images I photographed and found an image of a roof I took from a restaurant in Chengdu, which inspired me to use roof tiles for the cafe."

Stairwell at Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai
The stairwell allows visitors to enjoy views of the coffee-making process

A coffee bar that connects both floors is at the centre of the space, while seating and product displaying areas are arranged around it.

According to Blue Bottle Coffee, this is to encourage customers to interact with the process of coffee making.

The lounge area at Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai
An open lounge is on the second floor of the cafe

The stairwell is right next to the bar counter on the first floor so that when people walk up to the second floor, they are able to watch coffee being made at the bar area from different heights.

An open lounge space at the second floor features a hanging paper light above a seating area with dark-brown furniture and leather cushions.

Where the shop connects to the Kerry Centre, a series of semi-circular recessed seating areas have been carved out from the wall on both floors.

The rounded shape of the seating areas not only responds to the roof tiles but also creates privacy for the customers dining in the cafe.

Keiji Ashizawa Design used concrete in a variety of colours and textures all over the cafe, which has structural columns and slabs in raw concrete. Natural oak furniture was selected to add warmth to the interior.

The seating area connecting the shopping centre at Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai
The seating areas are designed to reflect the shape of traditional Chinese roof tiles

Blue Bottle Coffee was founded as a small roastery in Oakland, California, by James Freeman in 2002 and has since grown into a chain of cafes across the USA and Asia.

This is the second Blue Bottle Coffee shop in mainland China. The first one was opened in February this year, designed by Schemata Architects, also in Shanghai.

Previously, Keiji Ashizawa Design has designed three Blue Bottle Coffee shops in Japan.

The photography is by Chen Hao.

More images

Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai first floor
Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai first floor seating area
Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai first floor bar and seating
Details of the bespoke handmade tiles used in Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai
Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai outdoor seating
Blue Bottle Coffee Shanghai seatings on second floor