The recipes of Brown Bear Bakery were inspired by founder Blair Fornshell’s childhood (her grandmother’s kitchen in particular), and years later, through trial and error, are nearing perfection.
This project is the insertion of a new retail pastry shop into an existing 1860s Italianate storefront. The primary goal of the design was to let Blair’s discerning hand guide the physical space in the same way they’ve so successfully composed her baked goods.
Architecturally, this meant opening up the space in order to put Blair’s process on full display. The bearing wall that originally divided the space was removed, allowing the bakery counter to run parallel to the expansive historic storefront. Activity from the bakery flows out into the neighborhood, and warm, natural sunlight generously pours in. An existing double-hung window was reconfigured as curtain wall, providing glimpses of the dough sheeter and planetary mixer beyond.
Practically, this meant that many of the elements of the shop were either literally created by Blair or were handcrafted by others. Blair worked with a wheel-thrown potter over the course of 18 months to create hand-formed tiles for the bakery and obsessed over glazing textures and colors before getting it right. Craft details were added elsewhere – a neighborhood artist hand painted the sign, local woodworkers created custom cabinetry, and a family friend restored brass fixtures.