“To Tsai” by Georges Batzios

After suffering during the Greek financial crisis, the shopping district of Kolonaki in Athens has just begun opening up a number of new cafes, boutiques and artsy places.

“To Tsai” is not the typical large café that you would find in Greece, it is a small teahouse that was designed by architectural firm Georges Batzios.

What is the general feel of the place?

The place emerges gently with a minimalistic feel to it. It is calm and free of ornaments and unnecessary details.

What was the underlying inspiration for To Tsai?

The underlying concept consists of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony architecture; thus explaining the main architectural features in the space: the pale wooden dominant material, the play of shadows, and the pure composition of lines.

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What is this teahouse offering to guests?

To Tsai invites potential clients into a “Zen” world where all senses come gently together. The eyes are calmed by the purity of the lines and by the mystic shadows, the ears are comforted by the soft music, the nose is aroused by an elaborated odor palette of the teas.

What are the different spaces in To Tsai?

You can find two distinct areas. On one hand, you can find the retail space with more than 500 varieties of teas you can choose from, while on the other hand, you can relax in the lounge for a break away from the city.

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What are the main architectural features of these two spaces?

As soon as you enter To Tsai, you directly notice the importance of the geometry, lines and composition. A very long wall exposes varieties of teas within a grid-like library, made of 200 vertical and horizontal fin-like wooden panels. This entire wall is softly backlit, giving it a mystic tender feel.

Stretching in front of this main wall with the same full length, you notice the tea island: a pure wooden desk that adds depth to the space and offers a horizontal merchandising surface.

Giving also depth to the space, the ceiling will be one of the architectural features that are noticeable. The vertical wooden panels of the gridded wall extend and continue on the ceiling, becoming repetitive elements framing the space.

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Why is To Tsai a success in my eyes?

I personally love minimalism in architecture, especially when it makes sense, like in this Japanese-inspired tea house. On top of that, I love elements of repetition and rhythm in spaces because they create a very particular feel to any place. I think To Tsai offers a nice calming setting in a hectic urban environment.

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