Panache at Pistache

Chocolatier Pistache is immersing itself in an ambitious redesign and rebranding program after being taken over by new ownership at the start of this year. The renewal is part of its objectives to carve an impressive expansion strategy across the region.

  • E-Mail
By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  September 4, 2006

|~|Pistache-body-1.gif|~||~|Chocolatier Pistache is immersing itself in an ambitious redesign and rebranding program after being taken over by new ownership at the start of this year. The renewal is part of its objectives to carve an impressive expansion strategy across the region, building on the reputation carved by its first store, founded in Abu Dhabi in 1995.

Dubai’s Abu Hail store is the first Dubai shop to showcase the new look, the second is opening imminently in the new Al Ghazal Mall on Al Diyafa Street. Pistache plans to open in Umm Suqeim (Wasl) and other new development areas in the course of the next two years. “We are currently working on a zonal expansion that will eventually cover Dubai’s main residential and business areas.” Matar Al Hosani, general manager, Pistache says.

The aim of the redesign was to breathe new life into the outlets and the company. Al Hosani explains what the design brief was: “The new interior design with the strategic lighting reflects the new vision of Pistache and accommodates our desire to showcase the different chocolate varieties in the manner that they need to be; every single piece has the space and light it deserves.”

||**|||~|Pistache-body-2.gif|~||~|He commissioned Ali Sinno, owner of Start Concepts (which is in the middle of its own rebranding to become Italdesign) to undertake the interior design of the retail chain. Sinno explains that an integral reason for the redesign was to encourage Western customers as well as its already established local clientele to use the new stores. Sinno explains: “The advent of the shopping mall has meant that shops can no longer concentrate on targeting just one market group, every person that walks by should be a potential customer and so making the interior design of the shop as accessible and welcoming as possible is imperative.”

The design brief was to create something simple — to let the product take centre stage. A design that is classy and classic while being accessible to a wide target audience. Cumai Aboul Housn, deputy general manager, Pistache says: “We tried to let the interior designers understand our vision for the company. Ali Sinno already had knowledge of designing for a retail chain and so we ensured that he understood our company philosophy and expansion plans before he put pen to paper.”

||**|||~|Pistache-body-3.gif|~||~|The time scale was very limited, which presented the biggest challenge. Work started at the end of February, Sinno was commissioned mid March and then the store opened up in April. “The short time frame was good in many ways because there was no renegotiation of design, no time to change our minds, the design had to be right first time,” Housn says.

Of Lebanese origin, Sinno has been in the UAE for five years, and has designed the Lebanon Flower Restaurant and Bakery in Abu Dhabi; Jabri Jordanian Restaurant and Tender Wonder Mexican in Al Ain Mall. “I studied interior decoration in Florence, and European styles have definitely influenced my designs – I spent a lot of time in Paris and England in the eighties, a very exciting time for the design industry. And I had the good fortune of working with M. Parissi in Milan.” He adds: “We have witnessed a change in retail design recently, designers are favouring sleeker, more commercial, less personal spaces but with Pistache we wanted to create a house of chocolate that was welcoming and was homelier than other shopping experiences. We did this by using soft lines and relaxing colours with minimal contrast.”

||**|||~|Pistache-body-4.gif|~||~|He continues: “We opted for traditional Emirati colours – dark wood, cream and sand.” The flooring tiles are sourced from Iris in Italy and their light colour complements the dark wood of the low-level display units.
“The key element that unites both Western and Middle Eastern ideas of good design is simple carpentry work. Glass, aluminium or chrome, can alienate certain markets or age groups by being overly contemporary or industrial, whereas good quality carpentry and wood-based designs appeal to all.” The carpentry colour swatches were selected from traditional national themes of light sand colour and dark brown veneers to express the softness of sand and the everlasting value of real wood finishes.

The carpentry design was divided into three categories: box display cabinets; backlit shelf cabinets and low display units to accommodate various items of the brand. The modular designs can fit any size and can be easily moved and adapted to fit in with future outlets of different sizes. An additional part of the design that was intentionally adaptable was the soft ceiling in the centre of the store. Every branch of Pistache will have a different chandelier to suit it. The eventual idea with the chain of shops is to franchise them all out, and so this is a perfect way for each city/ country to put its own unique stamp on the design.

||**|||~|Pistache--body-5.gif|~||~|The central chandelier apart, the lighting solutions are incredibly specific. The obvious concerns of over-heating around the chocolate has restricted the type and strength of lighting Sinno could choose. “The lighting is very important, we use 5W spotlights next to the chocolate, while the main spotlight lighting is 20W. We made sure that there are two lighting solutions, one for nighttime and one for daytime; the day uses more yellow light while the evening light has more white light in it. In addition to this kind of lighting, there are also secondary starlights under the shelves, and in the boxes and backlit panels behind the shelves. All the lights and electrical items are from Electra Dubai.”

As the temperature inside the store has to remain a cool 18 degrees, the level of daylight had to be minimised, so Sinno isolated the sunshine by putting return ducts along the strip of the front window to stop the hot air coming into the shop. This uses the same theory as the heated strips used in countries with cold climates that have heaters above the doors and windows to stop the cold air infiltrating the shop.

He says: “Designs have to be practical too, there is a big difference between conceptual designs and designing so the designer can just show off his craft. Too many places actually don’t work on a functional level. This Abu Hail store was the tester store as far as the design goes; we wanted to experiment to see what worked and what didn’t before implementing it across all the outlets.”
Sinno concludes: “I follow the ideals of the school of minimalism. I aim to create beauty with minimal detail complications, and that is what I think I have achieved.”

supplier information
Tiles - Iris Italy
Lights - Electra Dubai
Electrical Fittings - Electra Dubai
Wood - Danube
Return Duct - Al Kawaser||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code