For the gourmet Belgian chocolate brand BbyB, the Japanese studio goes graphic in an extra-skinny shop with an eye-popping acrylic display case.
A new shop for Belgian chocolate brand BbyB – located in Ginza, Tokyo’s toniest shopping district – is equal parts art installation and magical illusion. Its best feature is its least visible: a clear wall made of two-centimetre-thick acrylic that divides the narrow shop along its length. Three long rows of drawers for holding bars of chocolate, with the contents arranged by colour, cantilever from the back of the wall. Customers simply slide out the drawers, select their bar of choice, then slide them back in. The spectrum of swatches serves up a stunning visual graphic, hinting at the delicacies within.
Nendo, the design studio behind the shop, took inspiration for the drawers from BbyB’s box sets, which package five bars into a single cube. The unique flavours, such as milk chocolate with crème brûlée, and white chocolate with raspberry and roses, are crafted by Michelin-starred chef Bart Desmidt of Antwerp.
The sliver of a shop, measuring a mere three metres wide by 16 metres deep, packs in an array of other surprises. Just beyond the gravity-defying drawers, a 12.5 metre-long service counter made of Belgian plaster extends into a café at the back. This darkened space lets customers perch on silvery Emeco bar stools and order up such fare as waffles, Vascobelo coffee and Madeira wine. In contrast to the white marble floors and a grid of white panels out front, this intimate café is painted entirely black, creating a marvellous space that deftly shows off Nendo’s mastery of sublime sleight-of-hand minimalism.