Design Dish: More than a StoreAuthor:Anh-Minh Le
With the opening of Sweet July earlier this year, Ayesha Curry’s résumé—which already included restaurateur, chef, author, philanthropist, television personality, entrepreneur and magazine maker—got a little longer. Like the multi-hyphenate’s previous endeavors, her new hybrid shop, café and community space in Oakland feels deeply personal.
There’s the moniker, for starters. Sweet July, which shares its name with Curry’s lifestyle brand, nods to the birth month of her three children as well as her wedding anniversary with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry. The location also holds significance. “Oakland is where Stephen and I planted our roots, and the Oakland community has completely embraced and nurtured me and my family,” she explains. “They’ve given me so much, so Sweet July was something I wanted to give to them.”
In addition to its food and retail offerings, Sweet July was conceived as a place to host events such as book signings and cooking demos. Thus far, visitors have been able to enjoy coffee or tea and baked goods (including Curry’s own signature bread pudding) while browsing wares produced under the Sweet July label (“We really poured ourselves into the process of creating them,” says Curry), plus an array of thoughtfully curated Black-owned and female-founded brands (like People of Color Beauty nail polish, CanDid Art’s quilted jackets for kids and ByChari jewelry).
To help realize her brick-and-mortar concept, Curry enlisted Christine Lin of San Francisco-based Form + Field. Within a 3,500-square-foot “concrete shell”—as Lin describes the starting point—kitchen, dining and living room vignettes were carved out, all with an aura of “attainable luxury,” the designer notes. “You can see the products in context and imagine them in your home.”
The custom lighting overhead makes an instant impression: 20 pendants with pleated shades made of acoustic sound-absorbing felt and spanning 36 inches wide dangle from the 21-foot ceiling. Lin mated the soft palette— walls painted in Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore alongside wood tones and terra-cotta hues—with tiles that imbue texture.
White oak comprises the marble-topped café counter, curved wall shelves, circular hardwood floor inset and double-height perforated wall. The latter, which allows for flexibility in merchandise display, currently serves as a backdrop for a series by Oakland artist Micheal J. Lopez, whose portraits depict iconic Black women. Another wall features a mural by Curry’s brother, Jaz Alexander, that celebrates the national flower of Jamaica.
A sculptural Vladimir Kagan sofa provides a comfortable perch to take it all in. “The aesthetic vision was to make a space that invokes a sense of calm but also to have every area of the store feel inviting and inspiring,” says Curry. Lin concurs: “It’s sophisticated and polished yet still very welcoming.”