BearHouse, three branches of the milk tea store that tell stories about
the bear cave, white pearls, and Thai tea leaves.

Bearhouse is a Thai milk tea brand owned by two famous YouTubers, which has recently been launched and quickly gained popularity among teenagers, professionals, and families. Design for Business would like to take you on a tour of the brand’s three new branches, which are located in Ban Kampu, Seacon Square, and Sai Mai. Despite differences in context and user groups, they still maintain the brand identity. The stores are designed by ARTi Architect.

Bearhouse = fresh and bold

“Designing with brands is quite multi-dimensional since there are numerous elements to consider when interpreting the brand’s challenges into the design. Simply put, we may interpret the challenges from their CI into material works. But the most striking aspect of working with Bearhouse has been their entrepreneurial spirit. They are an energetic new generation eager to try new things. Their logic and their identity are the things that I want to present through the design as well,”  the architect recalled.

The boldness was passed on as a design challenge. How to make all three branches have interesting differences while also hiding a reasonable story in that branch at the same time?

The brand’s owners are completely open to the designer designing the stories for all three branches. There are only a few brand identities that the owners wish to maintain, which include an arch resembling a bear’s cave (which is the brand’s logo) and the same round wooden counter in every branch.

Photo by : Rungkit Charoenwat

White Mochi Pearls, Uniqueness like no other

For the first branch located in the heart of the city such as the Asoke area like Baan Kampu, the designer and the owner intended to present the story of white mochi pearls that the couple created their own recipe with Thai rice flour ingredients. This makes pearl milk tea here unlike other brands. The pearls are conveyed through a transparent arch filled with 1,200 white 20 cm acrylic balls. As we enter, the mood slowly warms up in the brand’s CI colour palette of white and wood brown, with some pearly whites still reflecting through the pine-panelled ceiling that hid 150 fireballs inside.

Photo by : Rungkit Charoenwat

For this branch, the most noticeable shape is the sphere that the designer intends to use in both 2D and 3D ways, directly communicating with the brand identity so that customers can access the product and brand as easily as possible

Photo by : Rungkit Charoenwat

The Bearhouse milk tea store, which can be either a tea bottle library or a café.

“The difference lies in context and experience. I want something fresh to go into that store, or if a brand wants to share something in particular, we’ll share it.”

Following the success of the first branch is the second branch at Seacon Bang Khae. The difference between this branch and the one on Asoke Road is the way passers-by perceive the store. In a department store, you have to compete with the store next door to make the brand stand out. As the store is located around the corner of the stairs, this branch’s arches were meant to be open to allow passers-by to observe some of the activities taking place inside. The white rope’s design, which alternates back and forth to create the facade space rather than a solid wall, helps to blur the boundary between the store’s inside and outside areas. To distinguish the business from its surroundings, the ceiling is still designed as a grid filled covered in fabric, with the lighting hidden underneath it.

To meet the needs of the majority of customers who are students who like to sit and read books in this store, the owner and the architect would like to add a different user experience to this branch by dividing seating into three zones: the highchair zone in front of the shop, the sofa seating zones, and the elevated seating zones. Elevated areas provide improved visibility from the outside. In this last zone, there is a library-style idea to display tea bottles to show customers the origin of the different types of tea leaves that the brand sources from local raw materials.

Bear Cave and Tea Basket in Sai Mai Branch

However, the context of the third branch as Sai Mai Avenue differs from that of the other branches. The shop is neither on the main road nor is it in a department store. The left and right sides are also the shophouse. The shop’s space is located in a deep tunnel-like structure. The context led to the notion of the bear cave that the owner desired at first.

“I considered what we wanted to talk about in our 80 square meter space. What is the customer journey like from the moment a client walks in and finds the counter? How many different seating styles are there for the stores?  In addition, the brand would want to share another tale regarding tea leaves as they use Thai tea leaves that they intend to collect from the north. This inspired the form of the steel frame seat, which is shaped like a tea bamboo basket.

Furthermore, the back of the store has been designed to accommodate large groups of people who come to work, sit, and study by elevating the floor and providing furniture to fit large groups of people. Other seats at this branch cater to groups of four or more people in order to suit the demands of local consumers, the majority of whom are families.

“As for the brand’s colour, the shop focuses on brown and white, and I try to look for materials that would complement. For example, I use terrazzo countertops that are white but not too white. As for the floor, I use wood-patterned rubber tiles to make it feel warmer, rather than harsh. Each branch has a different proportion of white and brown. However, in this branch, I want to emphasize the proportion of wood because I want it to seem like a cave.”

The ceiling in this section is curved to make it feel like you’re in a bear cave. The challenge lies in setting up the lighting to make it look like a cave where the staff side is in white tone while the customer side is in brown tone. The architect chopped the ceiling in half, lowered it, and installed lights along the length to illuminate the level with the wooden ceiling below to create the appearance of a cave. Furthermore, the designers also choose to assemble small, curved bricks together to form a large arch on the storefront’s façade, which is already curved and conceals the light in the brick arch that can be randomly adjusted up to 8 patterns.

the architect from ARTi Architect

Something More : ” The materials and installation details are elements that I think are particularly crucial for the store’s design. After I had designed all three branches, the edge profiles need to be carefully considered, unlike the house design. It is required a genuine wood edge finish or a bottom stainless-steel edge as there are lots more visitors regularly and more heavy usage than the house. These details are easy to tear apart. Hence, I need to enhance it by drawing stronger and more lasting details of edging design on the corners and on the seats.”

BearHouse, the Baan Kampu and the Seacon Square branches Photo by : Rungkit Charoenwat

Rangsima Arunthanavut

Rangsima Arunthanavut