The Bitter Sweetie dessert shop, designed by All Design Studio (ADS)

The Bitter Sweetie dessert shop, designed by All Design Studio

The Tianjin Italian Style Quarter sits at the center of the main urban area, along the Hai River. Once the historic Italian concession area, it now still showcases more than a hundred meticulously preserved Italian-style buildings. Undergoing urban revitalization and renovation initiatives, these architectural, once symbols of capitalist ideals, have evolved into contemporary commercial hubs catering to modern consumer tastes.

Living room within an Italian historical building

With a deep reverence for local history, the designers delicately retain the allure of Italian architecture, infusing the shop with artistic touches inspired by desserts and paintings. This creates an experience for patrons that transcends mere indulgence, touching the soul with every bite.

Living room within an Italian historical building

Arched red brick

Extending from the style of the architecture, the overall ambiance of the space seamlessly integrates with the external facade and urban historical context. The red brick arch building where Bitter Sweetie is located exhibits the classic features of historical architecture with its brick walls and hollowed arches.

At the entrance, a pair of arched doors serves as the link between the interior and exterior. In winter, with the main door closed, the smaller door provides insulation and access. While in summer, the wide-open main door warmly welcomes customers.

Drawing inspiration from dessert palettes, the interior color scheme pistachio-colored door panels against the red brick, achieving a harmonious balance amidst contrasting elements. The door exudes liveliness and vibrancy, while the brick embodies solidity and heritage, together crafting a captivating interplay of color and architectural narrative. Modern design elements seamlessly blend with classic historical features, infusing the entrance ambiance with vibrant dynamism akin to a painter’s brushstroke.

the interior color scheme pistachio-colored door panels against the red brick

Natural materials and a dopamine color scheme, spanning from the floor to the ceiling, evoke a sophisticated and playful Italian atmosphere. Terrazzo flooring and imported marble blocks from Italy harmonize to create a narrative imbued with the essence of time.

The saffron-colored ceiling, complements the sponge cake-like wooden veneers, chocolate-colored wainscoting and baseboards, resembling a perfectly blended palette. These elements forge emotional bonds between customer and the space, interpreting the environment’s gentleness and warmth to the fullest extent.

Bitter Sweetie dessert shop

Encounter art

Using the painting techniques to intervene in contemporary spaces, from Renaissance wall frescoes to the origin of French deconstructionism, aims to reconfigure the symbiotic relationship between art and commercial environments down to the finest details.

Inspired by the Florentine fresco technique, European-style lines are hand-painted on the wainscoting, discarding the complexity and embellishments of European style, presenting unique artistic scenes in simple replication.

painting techniques

The design of the windowsills echoes the delicate decorations on cakes, with curves delineating the seating space for each guest, immersing them in a nostalgic ambiance fostered by the space. This highlights the collision between the textures of bygone eras and modern life.

The tablecloth, patterns designed by the designer sketching and crafted the shop-owner and her friends, exudes its own charm and ingenuity. With artistic and poetic lines complemented by soft, soothing colors, it gracefully embodies the warmth of baking and the beauty of life.

Inspired by contemporary art, a wooden cabinet with a natural texture is strategically placed in the central area to encase load-bearing column, seamlessly integrating them into the space. It incorporates design elements resembling a household wardrobe, it features fitted mirrors and shelves, seamlessly blending practicality with aesthetic appeal.

wooden cabinet with a natural texture is strategically placed in the central area

Traditional European-style crossbeams intersect across the ceiling, adorned with spherical light fixtures that illuminate the entire space. Creamy yellow grids, arranged in a delicate and orderly manner, cleverly conceal the air conditioning units, casting an artistic interplay of light and shadow throughout the visual space.

The irregular blocks of deconstructionism frames hanging on the wall, and beneath it lies a concealed door that traverses between two adjacent shops. Through the interplay of blocks and the partially open door, one catches a glimpse of another world from the neighbor.

On side of the space, the cake display counter resembles a piece of butter, with uneven square patterns randomly adorning the cabinet which akin to the holes formed during dessert baking. Immersed in the soft and creamy sweet world, it also echoes the small marble tiles on the floor.

the cake display counter resembles a piece of butter,

Walking through a half-open doorway, you step into a more private living space. The wooden veneers here cascade delicately like flowing cream, defying traditional design norms and radiating boundless energy.

The mirror wall expands the perception of space and welcomes visitors with warmth, while discreetly concealing a small storage space behind it. Enormous dangling candy sculptures, complemented by arched ceilings, turn the cozy living room into a whimsical candy paradise, delighting the palates and spirits of customers.

Nestled in the corner of Italian historical architecture, Bitter Sweetie seamlessly blends desserts with art through its lively and vibrant design, crafting a uniquely enchanting Italian-style living room for pastry chefs who returned from Europe.

Project Name Bitter Sweetie
Location Tian Jing, China
Area 93sqm
Design Firm All Design Studio (ADS)
Photo credits Yuuuunstudio