My Boba Spot is a new bubble tea and puff-waffle shop located in downtown Yuba City, CA. Though Boba tea has been around in the US since the 1990’s, originating in the San Gabriel Valley, it wasn’t until 2013, when the Fung Brothers released the music video, Bobalife, that it became a widespread cultural phenomenon throughout California in particular, but also beyond, and particularly for Asian-Americans initally and soon after among broader demographics as well. Though the origins of Boba tea (aka pearl milk tea or bubble tea) date all the way back to the middle-period in China, today the Boba shop - found in both urban and rural locales - is a place of community, social interaction, and leisure. For some the Boba shop is pop-culture while for others it’s a place of nostalgia.
As I learned from the owners of My Boba Spot in our first meeting, Boba is not merely a drink; it is an aesthetic, it holds socio-cultural meaning, its a life-style identity, and taking a Boba selfie is part of enjoying & experiencing this ice cold tea with tapioca pearls! These cultural and historical contexts (which are longer than I can write about here) provided cues for the design of My Boba Spot.
The vacant space - formerly a hobby shop - lacked the necessary infrastructure for a food and drink facility. Thus, separating the back-of-house and customer areas was conceived of as layered thresholds in which openings within each layer creates receding visual depth; an effect that is exaggerated by hiding the vertical framing members on each side within the existing walls. This strategy offers glimpses behind the scenes while also providing privacy for the tea makers. A dusty pink color- chosen for its similarity to the color seen low on the horizon during dusk in Yuba City and the nearby agricultural fields - flickers between lining opening’s edges and covering wall faces. Adjacent to the service counter and pick-up window an 18’ diameter dusty pink graphic bubble slips down the wall and onto the floor, implying a 3-dimensional volume as if it is a room within the larger room. Inside the pink bubble two dangling swings provide the ideal spot for your boba selfie! The glossiness of the tile floor reflects the half circle from the wall into the floor, creating a subtle yet peculiar 2D / 3D quality to that space. The bubble swing room is a little bit ‘pop’, a little bit nostalgic.
Tables large enough to seat 8, yet easy to move around, are ideal for nearby college students to spread out books, host study groups, Jenga games, family gatherings, community events, or gossiping with friends.
The tri-color palette - black, white, and dusty pink - was conceived of as different backgrounds against which the colors of the various teas are contrasted and accentuated. However, at night the lights can be dimmed, the neon “That Hit The Spot” turned on and different atmosphere of purple and orange light create something of a character-change.
-Photographer: Justin Lopez
-Structural Engineer: Hewitt Consulting Group.
-Plumbing: The Plumbing Doctor
-Electrical: CLC Electrical