Design Brooklyn - Anne Hellman

by Anne Hellman Photographs by Michel Arnaud
Hardcover, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Inc

Unexpected Vintage - Bellocq Tea Atelier

After fashioning a successful pop-up tea shop on Kings Road in London, Heidi and Scott Stewart and Michael Shannon set out to establish a permanent location for their Bellocq Tea Atelier in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. All three of Bellocq's proprietors have extensive experience in building and styling beautiful interiors, and so were able to execute a full transformation of a 5,000 square foot warehouse, carving out two elegant and inviting rooms for sampling and purchasing tea that appear as though they've been their for a century. This way, they can have both a vintage-feeling space conductive to teatime and a large hidden area in back for blending.

Scott, and his team from Saaw Inc, brought in salvaged wood from Pennsylvania to give the floors a wide-planked, natural feel. In the shop, the team created rich aubergine plaster walls, giving the space the cool quality of an old stone enclosure, completely unexpected when stepping off the industrial street outside. The color also serves as the backdrop for Bellocq's signature tea caddies in sunflower yellow, a color they chose specifically to stand out against the purple wall color.

Scott carried the white washed look of the wood-beamed ceiling onto the brick walls of the tearoom. He installed a chimney and a fireplace in the room and purposefully placed it to be seen from the front entrance, inviting customers in and to the left where they can peruse the tea caddies. He washed the chimney brick with mortar to integrate it with the surrounding original brick walls.

The story behind the name Bellocq says a lot about the venture itself. E.J. Bellocq was an early twentieth-century photographer famous for his portraitlike photographs of prostitutes in New Orleans. It is the "revealing of beauty in unexpected places" that Scott says he admires about Bellocq's approach.