A Touch of Dessert Heaven
Adversity, goes the time honoured adage, is the mother of invention. Montreal’s Pâtisserie Petit Lapin is a literal case in point. When Viviane Nguyen found she could not buy a cake for her son’s first birthday because of his severe allergies, she set to work researching alternatives. The result is a unique, 342-sq.-ft. bakery and retail shop tucked into a Westmount basement that focuses on gluten and lactose-free pastries devoid of 10 core food allergens.
Nguyen’s vision, says architect Maxime Moreau of Architecture Open Form, was something simple and minimalist with only touches of the pastels that form part of her branding. The real challenge they both recognized was to create an effective “billboard on the street,” a noticeable gesture to pull clients into the narrow, albeit double height, six-foot wide entrance hallway leading down to the shop.
His response is a series of differently textured surfaces unified by their brilliant white that includes porcelain tile floors, white quartz counters and, most importantly, ruffled surfaces using a material called Softwall. Produced by Vancouver’s Molo Design, this translucent, accordion-like material made from 100 per cent recyclable polyethylene has been carefully “squeezed” to form the recognizable undulations of a cupcake’s iconic parchment liner. While used vertically, particularly as a skirt for the two-tiered display shelving lining one side of the entrance hallway, it also provides an undulating, crenelated ceiling ensuring a wave-like sense of movement leading through and downwards to the lower level shop.
The interior structure of Softwall allows LED strip lighting to be infused throughout the material. This, says Moreau, generates a pure white hue that “sculpts the light to reveal the delicate structure of the folds… creating an ethereal seamlessness.” The pastry shop’s glowing whiteness and its lack of sharp surface contrasts (save for a narrow strip of exposed raw stone foundation) generates an otherworldly placelessness.
Ah, the divine heavenliness of a fine pastry.