Fumihiko Sano Studio creates cedar-lined chocolate cafe in Kyoto
Fumihiko Sano Studio has created a cafe and shop for San Francisco chocolatier Dandelion Chocolate, which occupies a century-old house in Kyoto, Japan.
Dandelion Chocolate is a small-batch bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker from San Francisco that has cafes dotted across the US and Japan.
The brand's latest Kyoto branch is located on a quiet street in the city's Ichinenzaka neighbourhood.
Shortlisted in the restaurant and bar category of the 2019 Dezeen Awards, the 200-square-metre cafe is arranged over two floors of a 100-year-old timber-framed house.
It comprises a cacao bar where customers can order pairings of alcohol with chocolate desserts, a shop and a traditional Japanese courtyard garden.
The self-titled studio of Tokyo architect Fumihiko Sano, which was charged with developing the cafe's interiors, opted to use cedarwood as the main material for the project.
"Considering the parallels between craft chocolate and cedar, both require authentic craftsmanship and carefully selected natural ingredients – so I made the decision to place cedar at the centre of materials used for this project," said Sano, who began his career as a Sukiya-Daiku – a carpenter for traditional teahouses.
"Cedarwood is also one of the main materials of Japanese architecture."
The interior of the building was completely renovated years ago, making it impossible for the studio to know exactly what it would have originally looked like. However, Sano's redesign features the building's original exposed beams and columns.
"My plan was to revive the atmosphere of the traditional Kyoto to which this building used to belong, while at the same time creating a casual, open space reminiscent of San Francisco, where this brand was born," he said.
"The interior needed to be recreated as if it had never gone."
Customers enter the cafe via the shop space, walking past a coffee bar through to a foliage-filled courtyard wrapped with tall panels of glazing. A corridor leads from here to the cacao bar that's situated at the rear of the store.
Here staff serve chocolate dessert and drink pairings from a counter lined with vertical planks of 700 – 900 millimetre-wide Yoshino cedarwood.
A wide staircase nearby takes customers up to the first floor where more seating is located.
"The store is designed to make you feel you are in a dynamic open space," said Sano. "The floor plan is laid out to give reinforcement to the building where needed.."
"It is my pleasure to give a new purpose to a building that has stood there for more than one hundred years. May it thrive for another hundred, full of new memories."
Fumihiko Sano Studio has previously an installation made up of Muji shelving units and a wood-lined members club in Paris.
Other sweet-treat stores include Mast Brothers in New York, which features stripped-back interiors that allow visitors to view the chocolate-making process and Glace et Chocolat in Tokyo, which boasts stacked-soil walls that resemble layers of cake.