It’s not too often we come across a juice shop with a decor scheme so inspired, we’d actually consider spending all day there. Case in point: this bright and cheery spot in Montclair, New Jersey, where pops of color and an intricately vibrant wallpaper transform a once outdated store into a light-filled oasis. Juice Culture, a fresh juice bar concept, boasts a unique aesthetic that emulates a sense of streamlined minimalism paired with decorative accents of fruit-inspired hues. We caught up with designer Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, who took on the project all the way from the West Coast. Here’s how she did it.
First things first, were you able to salvage any of the existing design elements from the prior space?
Definitely no—prior to Kacy [Erdleyi, shop owner] taking over the lease it was a “fashion boutique” of sorts. Besides modifying the space significantly for food service, I had to do away with the bright pink and espresso brown motif immediately. The best part of stripping away the former layers was revealing an original pressed tin ceiling above the dropped grid ceiling.
[Pictured above, the shop in its original form, pre-reno.]
What was the inspiration for the design?
Kacy Erdleyi had been following my work for a while and used the photos of my previous projects as the direction to give to her graphic designer, when they were putting together their branding package. I was honored that she made my design work pivotal to her branding. All she knew was that she wanted my California-cool style specifically for her shop. For me, the concept was to take shop visitors on a quick beachy vacation and I was inspired by juice stands in Venice Beach, Hawaii, and Tulum. Bright, colorful, natural, and relaxed with an edge of cool.
Since you’re primarily based in California, what was the bi-coastal design process like?
The bi-coastal design process relied on very good documentation by the local architect of the existing conditions via photographs and field-verified measurements of the space. Once I had that information, the design development process was very similar to a local project. I typically communicate my concepts through Photoshop product boards and Sketchup 3D renderings that I email to clients for review. We email and text back and forth at all hours of the day with ideas and insights. We text each other pictures of installs that we have seen during the day that could inspire the space. It’s a collaborative process and I honestly did not feel encumbered by the distance at all. It helped that the owner was responsive and hands-on throughout.
What sort of challenges did you face?
The challenges to this remote design was the lack of site visits to track installation progress. I was dependent on the contractors to send me photos of their work in real time. If they sent it a day later and did it wrong, it meant two days of lost work on making the corrections.
The wallpaper is a show-stopper! What led you to choose it?
It was one long, blank wall opposite the service counter. We had a lot of visual stimulation on the service counter side with the tile, lighting, and menu boards. It had to be balanced out on the opposite wall without taking up a lot of floor space or spending a lot of money. Installing the grey scale wallpaper allows you to focus on the beautifully illustrated images of fiddle leaf ficus floating in a cloudscape, without being distracted by more colors and patterns. It ties into the furniture color scheme and lets the printed flat lay fruit images pop.
The best part is that I didn’t realize this would happen, but it draws pedestrian traffic in from the street. They just have to get a closer look and then they are in the shop which, is great for business.
I believe in the food and the community building ideas behind Juice Culture—or I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of making a pretty space for it to be served in. When you are excited about the products and the people that will be using your space, it shows in the final deliverables.