A design exploration in user engagement Facing onto busy Swanston Street in the centre of Melbourne’s CBD, INSTEA has an inward-focused plan and subdued elegance that creates an allure from the street. In their first Australian bubble tea store, designed by Benjamin Fretard of Fretard Design, the space sets out to reflect INSTEA’s personality and aesthetic of sophistication and elegance, with a unique femininity. INSTEA is designed as a retail experience, and engages customers with detailed joinery, a layering of soft yet refined finishes and carefully considered product display. Visible at the entry, the counter is designed as a long linear element and features sweeping curves to funnel customers through, while referencing arched motifs which appear throughout the store in joinery, walls, and expression of finishes. Opposite, a wall of crafted joinery displays rows of INSTEA’s signature perfume-bottle shaped drinks, captured within a series of vaulted timber and concrete finished joinery. Benjamin Fretard designed this joinery to enhance the sophistication of the product, with concealed linear lighting detailed within the joinery to create lines of engaging colour and a highly identifiable feature. Upstairs, the space maintains the ground floor language with the continued personality of a rich green palette to create softness and a comfortable ambience. Built-in banquette seating lines one side of the room while mirrors designed to reference the ground floor joinery are positioned overhead, giving the illusion of more depth. The space is calm yet refined, and celebrates existing elements like an arched stained-glass window to further enhance INSTEA’s narrative of femininity and elegance. This is not Fretard Design’s first time designing a flagship bubble tea in Melbourne, imagining stores that strongly reflect a brand’s ethos and style, creating memorable experiences for customers to return to.