Purple Cane Tea House at Jalan Sultan

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Purple Cane was established in 1987 with its core value revolving around tea, with outlets spotted around Peninsular Malaysia.

The KLAF team met with Mr. Lim Hock Nam, the founder of Purple Cane, and Mr. Tey Tat Sing from Tetawowe Atelier, who designed the Purple Cane Tea House at Jalan Sultan, revealing their stories and thoughts behind the tea house, amid the aromatic tea atmosphere.

When Lim returned from his studies in Taiwan, he arrived with a sense of nostalgia that urged him to initiate a cultural landscape in Malaysia around tea. Simultaneously he collaborated with two other like-minded colleagues to transform Jalan Panggong and Jalan Balai Polis into a Cultural Street. It was a transformative move for downtown KL.

Tea was regarded as one of the seven daily necessities of Chinese scholars and common people. Lim aspired to enlighten Malaysian society with regard to this.

The name “Purple Cane” is built up from the first alphabetical characters, P and C as the alphabets suggest:

- Persistent and Consistent

- Proactive and Creative

- Professional and Concentrate

- Patience and Care

- Passion and Confidence

- Profitable and Comfortable

- Pioneer and Contemporary

- Platform and Channel

He went on to integrate tea with local cuisines in response to its growing appeal as a natural health supplement. His first tea tea restaurant was in the Chinese Assembly Hall and it was well-received by the market. The concept later expanded throughout peninsular Malaysia. The well known Nanyang lady illustrations appeared in the packaging, and he used Tey as designer for 20 outlets, including the latest ongoing tea warehouse cum cultural hub.

Tey is the masterminded the Jalan Sultan Tea House refurbishment. He was inspired by the shophouse character and its strategic location at the street corner. He incorporated three elements into the space design which were food, cook, and book. The elements were translated into spaces that specifically served their intended purpose. For instance, a hanging bookshelf was designed to display books which also acts as the statement of the entrance lobby. 

With the participation of Thinkcity, when the the MRT station emerged, parking lots adjacent to the shop were removed and replaced with a widened walkway to improve pedestrian movement. According to Tey, the street furniture was conceptualized as the “Outdoor Living Room”, bolted on the widened walkway to remind urbanites to go out to the street. 

Lim ended the conversation by saying, “The heart of cultural nostalgia is a void, that is destined to be a dry well”.

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