Transforming a basement into a brightly lit bakery

For her first storefront, baker Viviane Nguyen came to Newsam to transform a tiny342-square-foot basement. Nguyen, a notary by profession, started baking for her young son when he was diagnosed with over 30 food allergies. When her first attempt at baking him an allergen-free birthday cake was a success, she recognized a greater need, made the leap, and opened Pâtisserie Petit Lapin (“Little Rabbit,” her nickname for her son) – the first-ever shop offering indulgent gluten and lactose free pastries to Montrealers.

We at Newsam were incredibly proud that the renovation was awarded the Surface Award at the 2015 Grands Prix du Design by a committee of 14 architects, designers, directors, teachers, and presidents of associations.

“Viviane Nguyen has prettily decorated her bakery: all is baby blue, pink, yellow, mint green… It’s the biggest strength of Petit Lapin, this Alice’s Wonderland environment where nothing is forbidden.”

La Presse (translated from French)

Tour the space

Create a visual identity

To deliver a minimalist, delicate aesthetic full of interesting textures and continuous surfaces, we made the display counters visible from the street, day and night, to spotlight the client’s beautiful creations.

Develop unique “Softwalls”

The challenge was to pique the curiosity of passers-by in order to tempt them inside. To do this, Architecture Open Form, led by architect Maxime Moreau, created a series of textured surfaces. This modular system of “Softwalls” are made of translucent 100%-recyclable polyethylene. The Softwalls also symbolize the undulations and flexibility of the parchment paper liners used for baking cupcakes.

Add the illusion of height, space, and grandeur

A flexible Softwalls partition system unfolds in a continuous gesture on the walls and various ceilings, highlighting the double-height entrance hall and leading customers in the transition between the retail entry and the downstairs counter.

Showcase the pastries

We integrated flexible LED strips into the Softwalls, which perfectly sculpt the light. Emitting a warm white hue, they’re strung along the walls and ceilings between the street level and the basement. With the flick of a switch, the pastries come to life as the light travels within the lines and folds of the translucent fibres. Illuminated, their fluid motion is truly magical, enchanting customers young and old. Quartz countertops complete the brightening effect.