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Images courtesy Nendo.
It is safe to assume that Japanese design studio Nendo has a slight affinity towards chocolate. Some of their sweetest commissions include chocolatexture for Maison et Objet 2015, where the studio played with texture alone in order to manipulate taste, chocolate pencil utensils for patissier Hironobu Tsujiguchi and even chocolate oil paints for by|n, mimicking paint (syrup) in tubes (chocolates).
In their latest chocolatey foray, Nendo has designed Antwerp based chocolatier BbyB’s first international store at Ginza, Tokyo. Owned by two-Michelin star chef Bart Desmidt, BbyB is a Belgian chocolate company renowned for using the best quality ingredients and a haute couture approach to chocolatiering. Known for turning everyday objects on their heads and amplifying mundane moments just to “make you happy,” in founder Oki Sato’s words, Nendo was clearly in their element when designing BbyB’s interior, playing with the emotive potential of both retail design and chocolate.
The store explores the concept of modular cubes within cubes, much like the design of a chocolate box itself. The uniformity and repetition of BbyB’s packaging, each a different bold colour for 30 unique flavours, has been sweetly exploited. Nendo describe, “because the chocolates are all the same shape, the packaging is modular, five bars of chocolate slot neatly into each sliding box, and five boxes slot together into a cube… the whole shop becomes a three-dimensional version of the chocolate’s packaging.” The colourful pantone-esque chocolate blocks appear to float in their transparent drawers, projecting towards the centre of the shop.
Towards the rear, these transparent drawers become a showcase displaying chocolate individually, before transforming into a counter for the in-store cafe, the walls of which are painted black in stark contrast to the front of the store.
With futuristic references to fragrance counters and catalogued colour swatches, Nendo have created a highly original sweet shop for adults, with the exclusive ambience of an art gallery. BbyB’s Ginza design has a minimalist appeal that sits well within its central Tokyo setting, while Nendo’s stark, clinical design approach is certainly a departure in presenting a product as well-loved as chocolate.