Canadian Interiors


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A Touch of Dessert Heaven

Light and surfaces are the key ingredients for an allergy-free bakery


Photography by Adrien Williams

To introduce and seduce patrons into its narrow, street-level entrance, Petit Lapin lines one side with a simple two-level showcase for its allergy-free products. Skirts of Softwall, a pleated material of translucent, 100 per cent recyclable polyethylene are explicitly intended to suggest classic cupcake liners. Photography by Adrien Williams

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.

Photography by Adrien Williams

Photography by Adrien Williams

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.

A wave or a tumble of cumulous clouds, crafted from Softwall and infused with LED lights, undulates down the white tiled stairs to draw customers into the bakery’s small basement shop. Photography by Adrien Williams

A wave or a tumble of cumulous clouds, crafted from Softwall and infused with LED lights, undulates down the white tiled stairs to draw customers into the bakery’s small basement shop. Photography by Adrien Williams

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.

White tiles, white Softwall, white counters and only delicate splashes of pastel turquois give the shop an almost otherworldly ambience, countered only be a down-to-earth column of gritty stone foundation. Photography by Adrien Williams

White tiles, white Softwall, white counters and only delicate splashes of pastel turquois give the shop an almost otherworldly ambience, countered only be a down-to-earth column of gritty stone foundation. Photography by Adrien Williams

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.

Photography by Adrien Williams

Photography by Adrien Williams

 


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