Baristas move over tea has become the hip drink of the western world. And one store can take a lot of the credit for renewed interest in a drink that can trace its roots right back to the Tang dynasty in China in 206 BC.
The T2 brand, launched nearly 20 years ago, has recently undergone a major overhaul by Sydney-based Landini Associates. Designer Mark Landini says the first project to be completed was the new T2 headquarters in a former industrial warehouse in Collingwood, Melbourne.
"The aim was to respect and celebrate the original building, while providing a dramatic statement that would represent T2's company ethos," he says. "This ethos is the antithesis of what you would expect in other words the polar opposite of a traditional tea house. It's all about making tea cool and hip, and attracting a whole new audience."
Landini says perceived constraints, including a street frontage that was lower than the main entry, were turned into an advantage.
"The public is ushered into the space through an oversized steel-framed pivot door in a double-height space. Instead of a conventional reception area, there is a Tea Bar, which is an informal place to stop and sample tea.
"The Tea Bar personifies the T2 identity, and also acts as a trial concept for T2's latest tea retailing concept, T2B. The dark shelving and raw materials, including the large concrete bar, are similar to those used in the T2B project."
In contrast to the public entry, the staff entry is from the upper level car park at the rear, with a wide catwalk leading into the centre of the office. The catwalk and a sleek black steel panel alongside form the visual spine of the building, dividing the office in two. The warehouse origins are recalled in the warm, raw industrial interior of this space, which features exposed steel brick walls and timber rafters, and a mesh frame balustrade."
A similar look continues on the upper level, where there is a tea-making and tasting workshop, and the CEO's office. Here, however, a lighter colour palette was introduced to create a white, clean space that is flooded with natural light.
Landini describes the change to the T2 stores as more of an evolution than a revolution.