Van Stapele Bakery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In 2013, after several months of experimenting in her small kitchen, Vera Van Stapele decided that she had created a cookie that was special. The cookie was made of dark chocolate dough, baked crisp on the outside and filled with a gooey white chocolate.

With this cookie, she took the risk of opening a shop with an unlikely – and often failed – concept: a one-product bakery, in a back alley on Heisteg 4 in Amsterdam.

Her cookie concept took off and the shop has stayed successful ever since. Thousands of happy customers, word of mouth and long line-ups have kept the little shop in the forefront. At the end of April, as a response to the success, Van Stepele Koekmakerij is moving into a larger, 300 square-metre (3,230 sq. ft) premises, on Rokin 17, not far from the original shop.

The owner hired the team of the Amsterdam-based Studio Modijefsky to realize the new store but without losing the charm and familiar aspects of the original shop. The design brief included the retail space and bakery, the dough kitchen and office space.

The new store is grander, has an old-world feel, and boasts soft, creamy pastel colour scheme, but it has several familiar features.

Then original cookie concept is still intact. Each cookie is baked to perfection as each cookie batch is taken out at the exact correct time. Fresh cookies are baked throughout the day but when the last batch is sold, the store closes. Generally, they bake 3,000 cookies a day. Customers can check online if cookies are still available, or order them in advance to avoid disappointment. The key is that the customers will always get fresh cookies.

However, even with the additional space, line-ups are still inevitable, and some of design features take this into account by giving the guests something to admire while they wait. The ceiling boasts stepped, mirrored cassettes that reflect the soft lighting. There are also three chandeliers that add to the old-world effect. The floor is covered with custom-created terrazzo tiles with a fan pattern inspired by the Dam Square and Rokin street of the neighbourhood.

In the original shop, customers were used to watching the cookies being made. This aspect has also been retained in the new premises where the entire journey of the cookie is visible. Through a glass wall, against the backdrop of an oven wall of antique brass, the customers can see the marble tables where the cookies are rolled.

After baking, each batch of cookies is set on a tray in a custom-made cabinet that runs the width of the store and has a conveyer belt that rolls the cookies into the shop. This process keeps going on all day, with fresh cookies constantly arriving into the shop area.

Cookie lovers in Amsterdam can relax: their beloved boutique has not lost its magic. The designers have succeeded in creating a new, larger shop that looks fresh but has an established charm and a feeling of timelessness. Tuija Seipell

See our other bakery features here: 

Images: Maarten Willemstein

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