A transparent chute carrying cocoa nibs snakes above the heads of the customers of this São Paulo chocolate factory, designed by Matheus Farah e Manoel Maia Arquitetura.
The shop is located inside the four floors Dengo factory on Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima, a major avenue in São Paulo that stretches through some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
Local workshop Matheus Farah and Manoel Maia Arquitetura was tasked with its design, after being briefed by Dengo to create a destination offering a more detailed look into the world of the chocolate brand.
“The architecture sought to recreate a chocolate factory in an attractive and didactic way so that it could highlight the Dengo differential: controlling every step of the production process,” the practice explained.
With a total area of 1,500 square meters, the factory building consists of a series of stacked and rectilinear frames of cross-laminated timber.
The frames are topped with red aluminum beams and expansive glass panels, meaning that upon arrival, customers can watch and glimpse Dengo products being made.
Inside, on the ground floor, the partitions have been largely omitted to make way for a transparent duct that winds through the ceiling.
It shows cocoa beans being transported to a restored 1940s milling machine, which is presented in a transparent case.
Upstairs, on the first floor, is the Meu Dengo, or “My Dengo,” a space anchored by a looped counter where people can stand and watch staff prepare personalized chocolate treats.
Guests can also spend time at the cafe, ice cream bar, or chocolate library on the second floor.
Most of the surfaces in the store have been covered with wood so that the interior has the same warm brown hue as the cocoa beans.
The floor, meanwhile, has been encrusted with shards of red ceramic tile in a nod to one of Dengo’s most popular products, Quebra-Quebra – flavored chocolate slabs that can be broken into fragments. .
The studio deliberately kept the lighting subdued throughout the store.
This mimics the conditions of cabrucas, an agricultural system used in northeastern Brazil where cocoa is grown in the shade of forest trees.
Matheus Farah e Manoel Maia Arquitetura was established in 2017. The firm’s Dengo chocolate factory is shortlisted for this year’s Dezeen Awards in the retail interiors category, competing against four other projects.
They include Box, a brightly colored parcel collection point in Helsinki, and the Sculptform Showroom in Melbourne, which features a sequence of steam-bent wooden tunnels.
The photograph is by Fran Parente.