Kurt Merki Jr. designed the House of Läderach, which opened its doors in November 2020, becoming the new headquarter and event location of the world-famous chocolate producer Läderach. Within only one year Kurt Merki Jr. and his team created/designed all spaces and attended to the entire implementation during construction.
Given the task to not simply design a new building but incorporating a factory store including live chocolate production, a museum, a walk-in atelier as well as a café Kurt Merki Jr. tackled the challenge by working out a clear red thread and including Läderachs family tradition into the storyline of not only the building but to every single room.
Thus he created a space where customers, as well as employees, are given the chance to sense the spirit of Läderach and get to know the company's values.
Starting with the exterior of the building, Kurt Merki Jr. chose a wooden panelling to create a warm and clean optic, inspired by the colour of cocoa, the basic ingredient of chocolate.
The Läderach gold letters are embedded and flush the facade while the “House of” letters are placed on top of wooden paneling, giving the facade an interesting play in depth.
Passing through the entrance door, visitors enter into the airy entrance hall, where again they are immediately reminded of the company's three corporate identity pillars: Freshness, Switzerland and Craftsmanship. Greeted by a huge chocolate sculpture placed in the center of the entrance hall, which was created by Elias Läderach, the World Chocolate Master and grandson of the founder of Läderach, visitors are free to choose which way they wish to go. They can get information and tickets at the welcome desk/reception and admire the so-called Master Wall right next to it, which is a tribute to Elias Läderachs Master title.
The World Chocolate Masters wall is made out of real cocoa beans, painted in gold, carries the pattern of the Elias chocolate masterpiece.
On the other side of the entrance hall, visitors can enter the factory shop whereas Kurt Merki Jr. intentionally changed the order of spaces and thus created a reversed customer journey. His intention was to emphasise the one thing Läderach takes the biggest pride in, namely producing truly fresh chocolate. And that is now displayed by the longest fresh chocolate counter in the world, where chocolatiers are creating fresh chocolate dreams in the Live Production round-the-clock.
The Live Production is placed directly opposite the Factory store.
From the factory shop, visitors can, if they wish to, proceed to the cafe on the first floor. And again Kurt Merki Jr. paid attention to keeping everything very open and without any inhibitions. People shall feel free to roam wherever and however they want to and always be inspired to explore. This being ensured by using the same flooring in every space, always adding elements of the overall style of retro elegance.
The Café itself follows this concept of freedom as well by offering different seating options while staying true to the fresh yet still warm ambience and touching the symbol of the cocoa bean in several details.
At the same time, customers can also choose to visit the Walk-in Atelier right next to the factory shop. Here again, Kurt Merki Jr. paid great attention to detail and organised the space in such a way that the customers have an unobstructed view of the Live Production while at the same time are provided with the option to create a piece of fresh chocolate art themselves.
From the cafe, one can directly enter the museum section of the House of Läderach. Here the interested can experience a tour through the world of chocolate and Läderach, whereas the tour is both guided and partially unguided. Kurt Merki Jr.’ focus here was to provide insights and enable the visitors to truly experience the journey of fresh chocolate, from the cocoa bean in the fields of Costa Rica or Ghana up to the packaging and shipping of the freshly produced chocolate products in Ennenda Switzerland, while at the same time also gaining more information about Läderach as a family and company. Thus he worked with elements like a tasting wall, a family room, a history wall but also an employees wall, creating the opportunity to gain knowledge in an interesting, playful and easy way. Along the way, visitors also pass by the specially designed and created chocolate fountain, from which the main three varieties of chocolate flow constantly and makes everybody’s chocolate heart skip a beat from delight.
Together with Läderach, Kurt Merki Jr. hopes to have created a one-of-a-kind fresh chocolate experience in the House of Läderach. , giving visitors the chance to roam freely and get insights on fresh chocolate production as well as the history of Läderach. The entire concept aims to facilitate freedom of movement and provide insights on fresh chocolate production as well as the history of Läderach. Last but not least visitors and guests shall also get a better sense of Läderach and the company's main vision and beliefs through the chosen design elements.