Architect Monica Sanga and Japanese designer, Puddle Inc, collaborated to realize Dandelion Chocolate’s first permanent US cafe and retail space outside of San Francisco. Taking cues from the California-based small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker’s own process and products, the design team emphasized handcrafted details and honest use of materials to create an oasis of calm on the Las Vegas strip.
The final result is an exquisite jewel-box, part retail store and part café, that showcases Dandelion chocolate and serves hot chocolate, coffee, and pastries. Their Las Vegas expansion joins international locations including Taiwan and Japan and temporary pop-up locations previously in Los Angeles and New York City.
After a complete gut of the previous store, the new design creates a moment of visual relief within the frenetic casino. Coved ceilings echo the highly decorative vaulted ceilings of the Venetian but the bare minimalism provide a counterpoint that mimics the subtle glow of a desert sunrise. Vertical wood moulding implies the striations of wind-swept sand dunes and lends textural interest to a highly restrained palette.
“The Las Vegas Strip is quite an artificial environment, we wanted to bring some of the natural landscape inside. The desert landscape is stunning here but you don’t see that anywhere on the Strip” says local architect Monica Sanga. Solid copper shelves instead of copper veneer inside welded steel frames create the retail display and cabinetry. The elemental simplicity extends to the custom-milled monolithic stone table that greets visitors at the entrance with chocolate samples. It is locally-sourced Las Vegas Rock (meta-quartzite) in a sand-blasted finish with 1/8” solid copper counter-top that will patina over time.
A long bench with floating copper tables create additional seating to maximize the small space. A thermo-formed corian table with HAY revolver stools provide a rare place of rest near the casino and hotel lobby. Custom-milled metal water-jet cut letters form the menu board. Large pocketing windows and doors allow chocolate smells to waft into the lobby, enticing customers to come inside.