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Sweet Escape: Confectioneries

Alissa Ponchione • Photography by Grey Crawford, Jara Varela, Michel Giesbrecht, Piotr Narewski, and Studio.DR • March 23, 2018

Photos: Confectioneries

Credit café culture and customers’ sophisticated design sense for elevating the look of bakeries and sweet shops around the world. From whimsical ice cream parlors to patisseries that sumptuously reinterpret the goodies behind the glass, there is no shortage of imagination when it comes to crafting homes for these confectionery creations. Look no further than Toronto and New York-based Navigate Design’s look for Sweet Salvation in Dubai. Like the original concept, rolled out by Toronto’s Solid Design Creative for the Sweet Jesus franchise (the name was changed to Sweet Salvation for the UAE projects), this location boasts the brand’s signature bright teal, while a repurposed shipping container acts as the serving station for an added twist. In Japan, meanwhile, Bake Kyoto sells the brand’s signature baked cheese tart on a display case constructed entirely of Lego pieces by Tokyo-based designer Yusuke Seki. At the same time, the retail area employs shitaji-mado, a lattice framework technique used in the construction of Japanese teahouses, creating a store deeply rooted in its heritage with a universal appeal.

Here, we look at seven more of these delightful spots sure to satiate all those cravings.

Compartés, Los Angeles
In true Kelly Wearstler style, Compartés—the flagship chocolate shop that launched in LA’s Westfield Century City mall last fall—is full of subtle details with big, bold moments, including the patinated copper façade. “I wanted the store to reflect the thoughtfulness and heritage that is infused within every piece of chocolate and truly embody the art of chocolate making,” the local designer says, adding that “it’s a modern interpretation of the classic European chocolate shops of the early 1900s.” Consider the dusty emerald hue that envelopes the space, amplifying the colorful rows of chocolate bars lining the walls. Attention to detail was key, with moments such as the custom ceramic bowls and handblown glass domes adding a bespoke touch to the enchanting space. Set behind the display counter is a geometric black wall made of ebonized and wire-brushed wood, inspired by artist Louise Nevelson. It integrates with a secret door that leads to the back of the store where the chocolatiers put the finishing touches on their mouthwatering treats.

Juana Limón, Madrid
Similarly, Juana Limón, located next to Madrid’s bustling Buen Retiro Park, isn’t what you’d call inconspicuous. In fact, with its teal exterior, it acts as a beacon, luring patrons inside to hungrily stare at its baked goods. No easy feat for the slim 538-square-foot space. The concept “became a game of two colors,” says Fernando Hernández-Gil, founder of local architecture firm Lucas y Hernández-Gil. White and yellow act as flour and butter—the basic ingredients for baking—and cultivate a crisp aesthetic. “The colors unfold, creating planes and volumes that add depth,” he continues, but also a feeling of openness to the petite space. These handpainted tiles are set against wood flooring and iron furnishings for a warm, welcoming mood, encouraging patrons to savor the delicious creations.

Beckeria, Zurich
The bright and open Beckeria in Zurich takes a less-is-more approach, celebrating the simple and honest baker profession by going “back to basics,” says Gian Frey, one-half of local firm Dyer-Smith Frey with partner James Dyer-Smith. Here, nostalgia and tradition are channeled with light, natural materials that mix with modern ones. The clean, minimalist design starts at the matte gray concrete-clad entrance sales counter, while a cereal area is furnished with high tables and chairs made of natural oak. A herringbone floor and dark wood populate the seating area, while opposite a bar-height table with leather-covered barstools sits the black marble grill bar made of anthracite-colored concrete. “The continuous black-painted industrial-looking ceiling contrasts with the fine materials and thus creates an interesting tension,” adds Dyer-Smith.

Des Choux et Des Idées, Beirut
When Etienne Bastormagi of the local Studio Etienne Bas was coming up with the design story for the new flagship of Beirut bakery Des Choux et Des Idées, his mood board was all-white everything, curating a concept for the 215-square-foot space that was unlike normal patisseries and “more like a jewelry shop” that put the pastries on display, he says. “We wanted to express the lightness of the sweets,” he continues, and create “a fresh take on the new pastry store.” The former private parking garage is now a shiny, monochromatic space that centers around what Bastormagi calls an urban mirror—a plane that reflects the pastries toward the street and changes positions based on the store’s operating hours. “The mirror became this playful object,” he notes. “Suddenly, this small window became a reflection of the street, and the street became part of the boutique.”

Noglu, Paris
Mathieu Lehanneur was a frequent patron of the gluten-free Noglu and friends with owner Frédérique Jules before being tasked with designing the boutique chain’s flagship café-restaurant-patisserie in Paris’ chic 7th arrondissement. The local designer incorporated natural materials, such as marble and quartz, and soft furnishings like pale gray velvet cushions for a sense of indulgence, he notes. White walls with a striated finish and a powder pink salon are charming details that enhance elements like terrazzo-topped tables and pendant lights that reference clouds. “The design is feminine in a lot of details,” he adds, “and has a kind of sweetness in terms of colors and mood, but there’s a more masculine, primitive approach—it’s like a boudoir and a cave.” Indeed, at the center is an undulating wall made of stone with an organic cutout opening, a reference that “we came from caves and that we’re never far from them when it comes to questioning our origins and what we’ve become,” he says.

New York Sweets, Nicosia, Cyprus
The 30-year-old bakery known for its American sweets and pastries with seven locations throughout Cyprus recently underwent a dramatic modern rebranding, courtesy of Thessaloniki, Greece-based Minas Kosmidis. Located on a busy artery in Nicosia, the rectangular store derives much of its inspiration from Manhattan itself, with the city’s grid playing a prominent role in the design, such as the metallic vertical blades in beige, brown, and pale Bordeaux hues used to divide the white marble mosaic backsplash. The pastries inside the display, meanwhile, look “as if they were colorful buildings in air photographs of Manhattan,” says Kosmidis. The highlight is a stunning rendition of the city’s skyline made with varied pieces of marble that spans the entire length of a wall. Of course, no pastry shop is complete without celebrating its sweet ingredients: A textured central column has been painted blush pink, a subtle nod to smeared whipped cream, he says.

Przystanek Piekarnia, Warsaw Poland
Expansive windows surrounding the façade of Warsaw’s Przystanek Piekarnia Bakery hint at the dramatic installation inside, where stained birch plywood creates a striking ceiling grid that drapes over the walls as a built-in display for the baked goods. Architect Maciej Kurkowski of local firm Five Cell chose versatile elements like this on purpose, so that they could be easily translated to the whole chain of shops. “The concept has stood the test of time,” he says of the four-year endeavor. “The invented modules allowed for creative work on individual premises while maintaining a consistent look for the entire network.” Meanwhile, subdued materials including gray plaster walls, epoxy resin flooring, walls in black chalkboard paint, and suspended Edison-style lightbulbs are a subtle contrast to the ornate installation.