GERMANY: Lovers of all things sweet are in for a delightful treat with JOI-Design’s restoration of marzipan confectionery Niederegger located in the heart of Lübeck, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Germany.
The Niederegger family’s passion for creating confections is a familial legacy and has been maintained for the past seven generations. For the first time in its history, the shop and café doors were shut to restore the space for a 21st century make over.
“We very much wanted to share its values through the interior design, evoking nostalgia and delight while also bringing the shop and café into the 21st century so that its appeal endures for generations to come,” said Corinna Kretschmar- Joehnk, co-managing director at JOI-Design.
The initial concept for the restoration was drawn from Niederegger’s original marzipan chocolates, first created over two centuries ago, with the colour scheme inspired by the original Niederegger marzipan treat.
“It is a rich almond paste enrobed in chocolate and enclosed in a ruby and gold wrapper,” Kretschmar- Joehnk described. “Therefore, cherry and cream tones can be found in the velvet and leather upholsteries, with the colour of bittersweet chocolate recalled in the oak parquet flooring and carpets in the dining areas.”
She continued: “Splashes of red offset by subtle touches of gold also reinforce our concept. For example, the ribbons that run in parallel along the ceiling and floor that are reminiscent of the traditional livery and the handmade brass lift button shaped like a marzipan loaf are elements which help weave the interior design with the Niederegger brand identity.”
The design team meticulously researched the history of the brand using archival information to decorate and dress the space with snippets of memory and tradition.
“For example,” told Kretschmar- Joehnk, “the floor-to-ceiling timber shelves displaying vessels and apothecary jars refer to the fact that historically almonds were a medicinal remedy sold only by pharmacists.”
They also found traditional marzipan moulds that were then used for the red, back-painted glass accent wall, then arranging antique culinary utensils within a series of shadow boxes, JOI-Design fashioned an art installation.
“Silhouettes of iconic Lübeck scenes designed by Alfred Mahlau, the same graphic artist who created the Niederegger logo, have been glazed onto classically styled porcelain tiles crafted especially for the restoration,” said Kretschmar- Joehnk.
However, in order to keep the brand fresh and relevant to our current times, technology needed to be woven into the design.
“Housed within traditional timber cabinets are fun electronic games where visitors can win marzipan prizes, as well as an interactive digital screen which enables guests to discover more about the brand through social media,” Kretschmar- Joehnk explained.
When speaking about the challenges of the project, Kretschmar- Joehnk said that the team had some advantages that gave them a push in terms of design.
“Both Lübeck and Hamburg, where JOI-Design is based, are Hanseatic cities, so not only did we understand the cultural inheritance of the location, we could also draw upon our grandparents’ stories about their childhood adventures to the Niederegger shop and café.”
However, one of the biggest challenges was the time frame as the café and shop were closed for a mere two months. The design team had very limited time to complete extensive structural works and interior finishes.
“Renowned German efficiency was certainly put into practice in order to accomplish everything on schedule,” said Kretschmar- Joehnk humorously.