A vibrant cafe in Tokyo, designed by Wonderwall, is entirely devoted to crafting the finest chocolate from around the world.
For a new outpost of 100% Chocolate Cafe, Tokyo interior design firm Wonderwall took its cues from the sweet confection itself. One wall is covered with an eye-catching display of colourfully wrapped chocolate squares arranged like ceramic tiles, each designated with its own number. A transparent case holds 56 clear bins of mouth-watering flavours and cocoa blends from such far-flung producers as Uganda, Costa Rica, Peru and Tanzania. Even the suspended walnut ceiling looks like an expanse of rich chocolate pieces just waiting to be snapped off for a snack.
Wonderwall founder Masamichi Katayama, who designed the original 100% Chocolate Cafe in the Kyobashi area of Tokyo six years ago, revisited his initial concept for this new location in Oshiage: create a kitchen dedicated to making chocolates with the same seriousness as a Michelin-starred restaurant. “I wanted to entice customers to try different types of chocolate,” he explains. “My idea was to create an environment where customers could taste freshly made chocolate right out of the kitchen, just as they would at a chef’s table in a restaurant.”
Located in the newly opened Tokyo Skytree broadcast tower and retail mall, currently the tallest tower in the world, the 185-square-metre cafe is owned by Meiji, one of Japan’s largest makers of candy bars and sweets. However, stepping through the glass entrance feels more like discovering a small destination restaurant than visiting a corporate chain. With such bold packaging and architectural elements that look almost edible, the interior scheme could easily have veered toward something reminiscent of a Willy Wonka theme park. But Katayama – no stranger to crafting minimalist environments with a sense of luxury, delivered via polished surfaces and precious materials – makes it all appear surprisingly elegant. His studio counts among its clients Uniqlo, Nike, and Colette, the much-loved clothing and accessories boutique on Paris’s rue Saint-Honoré.
At 100%, customers can watch brown-aproned chocolatiers as they work intently behind a stainless steel counter at the centre of the cafe. Patrons sit together on chestnut brown Tolix chairs that line up along a communal table made of thick marble. A grouping of four small tables sits tucked along one side of the glass facade, with bar stools along the other. As well as making a cheeky statement, the walnut dropped ceiling keeps mechanical equipment out of sight. The main materials – steel, marble, wood and white tile – are all elements borrowed from high-end kitchens, notes Katayama.
Wonderwall’s clean interior is punctuated by the brilliantly coloured graphics of Groovisions, the same Tokyo studio that designed the cafe’s paper products, including shopping bags, gift boxes and takeout coffee cups. “Working with Groovisions was more than inspirational,” says Katayama. “We incorporated their designs right into the interior design itself.” He also consulted with the firm on colour, adding a pale blue to the already established cocoa and white palette. One clever addition is a takeout window. Wonderwall went with the same alluring robin’s egg blue to make it really pop from the street.