I love discovering something that just makes you go, “Oh WOW.” This is one of them! Back in 1938, Viennese chocolatier Stephen Klein started Bartons Salon De Chocolat in the New York area. They had great success creating delicious European-style chocolates and even expanded their line to produce kosher chocolates—earning a reputation in the Jewish community for being “the” confectioner for Passover sweets. As demand increased, they opened more and more shops. In 1952, as they prepared to open their 50th store in Manhatten, they decided to give their brand a refresh. And what a colorful refresh it was!
Can you believe this place? I love it. LOVE!!!
Every colorful detail was intentional as can be—and quite unlike what was happening in architecture and design at the time. Apparently the rules for store design included missives like “the store front must look modern” “strong colors should not be used; they overwhelm the merchandise” and even “don’t call attention to the ceiling and away from the merchandise”. CLEARLY the brains behind Bartons had their own ideas!
In the August 1952 issue of Architectural Forum, architect Victor Gruen said “store design is taking itself too seriously,” and was determined to turn the candy store into a visual delight. They began by giving the traditional storefront a vibrant paint job that made it stand out on the street.
Together with graphic consultant Alvin Lustig, they set about to create a “toy shop for adults”. The plan? Clever displays, vibrant colors and whimsical Calder-esque light fixtures that were guaranteed to make customers smile and put them in the mood for some candy shopping! (It’s no coincidence that “Lustig” means jolly/lively/fun in German!)
Ahh, those lamps. No detail was spared and even the candy tins were colorful and featured fun illustrations. This spectacular one is my favorite:
So there you have it. The technicolor world of Bartons Bonbonniere! It’s amazing, isn’t it?
OH! And for those of you who would like to see a little slice of this awesomeness, head on down to LACMA in Los Angeles. They are having a special exhibition on California Design and THE LAMPS are featured!