Peet’s Coffee at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art

red design created a space for Peets Coffee at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing that incorporates the unique cultural location while staying true to the Peets brand identity.

  • area / size 1,119 sqft
  • Year 2023
  • Location Beijing, China,
  • Red Design’s for Peets Coffee at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing is an exercise in contextual response: we have created a space which responds to the unique cultural location while remaining true to the Peets brand identity.

    Founded in 2007 at the heart of the 798 art district in Beijing with the aim to bring Chinese art into global dialogue, UCCA has developed into China’s leading contemporary art institution with a reputation for commissioning leading architects to create unique spaces for art across China. UCCA Beijing was renovated in 2017 by OMA with the intention to give the internationally renowned institution a cohesive public image and visual identity.

    OMA’s solution was to create an image of openness and clarity: columns and cores remain, while a thin layer of glass elegantly curves and folds around them, unravelling in waves of visual illusions. A red ceiling with geometric LED lighting responds to the red brickwork of the facade and unifies the various components of the building.

    These identifiable design elements – curved glass and red ceiling – are incorporated into the new design for Peets Coffee. Instead of competing with the iconic architecture, we approached the interior design in the same way as an aspiring artist might occupy a warehouse: as a ‘found space’ into which new pieces can be inserted, creating interesting juxtapositions with the building envelope and embracing a sense of mismatched work-in-progress.

    The concept of the ‘artist’s warehouse’ informs the key design elements in the space. A large central table comprised of an abstract arrangement of curved geometric forms (loosely inspired by the UCCA logo) creates an iconic first impression. The banquette features an acrylic plinth into which LED lights are loosely coiled, evoking a sense of artistic work in progress. Further feature lights dot the back wall of the space, randomly arranged as if mid-curation. These pieces become talking points in the same way as the artwork displayed at UCCA prompts interaction and conversation.

    Our approach continues in the finishes used in the design. The main materials used throughout Peets Coffee stores – warm timber finishes; white painted walls; plants which embody the Peets’ Californian origins – are present within the UCCA space, ensuring that the store remains consistent with the brand identity established in China. Layered on top of this neutral palette are bolder materials chosen specifically for this location. Stained red wood veneer connects to the architectural colour palette. Matzform furniture in playful forms is upholstered in bright yellow and electric blue, adding a pop of colour. Monochrome geometric shapes are used in furniture, rugs and as a graphic wrap for the coffee machine, creating a layering of pattern. Curving stainless steel wraps the counter front, reflecting light and colour around the space and mirroring the shape of the glass façade.

    The cumulative effect of the design elements and material selections is a space which feels cohesive but not over-designed; a space which sits comfortably within UCCA, establishes a dialogue with the unique surroundings and provides thought-provoking design alongside great coffee.

    Design: red design
    Lead Designer: Michael McGirr
    Photography: Seth Powers