Turning Over a New Leaf: ANYK Creates a Modern Aesthetic for New York's Tavalon Tea Bar

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ANYK Design creates a unique setting for Sonny Caberwal's Tavalon Tea Bar in New York City.

Walk down any Manhattan block, and chances are you are a stone's throw from a Starbuck's, Cosi, or neighborhood espresso bar. While few can resist the ubiquitous skinny-grande-double-caramel-macchiato-no-whip, many are looking for an alternative beverage and a less caffeine-charged environment. Enter a new generation of specialty tea bars, where the bean has been replaced with the leaf and infusions trump the au lait. This is not your grandmother's afternoon tea, rather this new generation of tea enthusiasts are making tea hip again, through creative concoctions and by building identifiable brands and fashionable destinations through style and design.

No one is more on top of this trend in tea than architects Anurag Nema and Orit Kaufman, principals of renowned interior design and architecture firm ANYK. Nema and Kaufman were commissioned by one of New York's most popular boutique tea stores, Tavalon, to design its space according to very specific criteria.

"Tavalon owner Sonny Caberwal wanted to create a brand identity on a low budget. He wanted to Tavalon to stand out as unique destination, for both the products and the atmosphere," Nema states. "The project required strict attention to detail. Every aspect of the design, materials, and lighting had to establish the brand's identity, culture and the intended customer experience."

Located in the heart of Union Square, Tavalon was created with the intention of bringing tea to a new generation as hip, trendy and fun. This called for a clean, contemporary design, incorporating large mirrors, a monochromatic color scheme and minimalist built-in shelves. In keeping with the client's desire to make Tavalon a spot for young people to come and hang out, ANYK added a DJ booth above the sales counter. "Tavalon took the themes of infusion and mixing way beyond the tea," continued Nema. "It permeates everything about the space, the beverage, the food, the ambiance and the sounds."

Tavalon is not ANYK's only foray into the modern generation of tea bars. They also designed the interior of another New York tea bar, SubtleTea. Here, the owners wanted to make it a neighborhood place with a European twist. ANYK created a simple, clean layout featuring a long communal table with custom iPod and cellphone chargers. The design blended a variety of textures, with antique barn wood juxtaposed against a futuristically lit ceiling and Himalayan marble floor.

While these two tea bars present different experiences and aim to reach different sectors of the diverse New York City community, they share the common approach of using architectural design to establish a unique brand identity. Despite small budgets and limited space, ANYK was able to make the design work as both comfortable, friendly locations and as brand identifiers for these up-and-coming destinations. Both Tavalon and SubtleTea have enjoyed great success in their first years in business. And we think that is just tea-rrific.

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