With family living in Provence in southern France who had already been crafting gluten-free baked goods for generations, Chloe Charlier was ready to bring the family tradition to her home in LA. She began by selling in farmers’ markets whilst she searched for the perfect location for her first brick-and-mortar. By 2017, she finally found the right place to open the first permanent location for Breadblok and hired the design firm Commune Design to craft the perfect space.
“Chloe wanted the brand’s ethos to shine through every detail of the physical design,” the team at Commune said. “This meant we focused on several key elements: a commitment to high-quality materials, a strong connection to nature, an emphasis on hand-crafted, locally sourced goods and artisans, and bridging the physical distance between Provence and California.” Bringing in the feeling of these two places, the design of the Santa Monica shop revolves around the beauty of earthy materials: warm alder wood for shelves and millwork, saltillo tile floors, plaster walls, and textured limestone counters. The walls, in particular, had been given special attention. The designers worked with surface designer Brian Robles who crafted a unique patchwork application of Portola’s Roman clay paint.
Beyond the use of high-quality materials, the design firm based Breadblok’s interior on the concept of blocks. “Besides the name, if you think about it, blocks are a very rudimentary way of looking at the art of baking itself,” they said. “Every ingredient is separated and measured before coming together to create something completely new and beautiful in its own right.” The grid pattern of the rectangular saltillo flooring is an obvious manifestation of this idea but the designers decided to take it further by creating a custom limestone counter. “It took months of coordination to get all of the necessary equipment discretely hidden within the stone block supports and risked being nixed as the space was much narrower than we’d originally anticipated when we embarked on the concept,” they explained. “But it is core to the design so we felt it was worth it all along.”
Besides the beautiful minimalist elements that make up this bakery, it’s important to not forget what this space is all about. “We took great care in sizing the shelves and display cases so that they’d work for the exact sizes and shapes of the breads she makes,” the shared. “We had already developed portable displays for Chloe’s market stands, so we were quite familiar with her range of products and how to best display them. We also greatly considered the way in which a bakery empties its shelves as the day progresses, so it was very important that the shelves looked as beautiful teeming with bread as they did when empty.”