February 13, 2021

Studio BANAA Deconstructs the Cocoa Bean for a San Francisco Chocolate Shop

As a tribute to the palettes and materials found in Southeast Asia, where the shop’s owner is from, the design team incorporated greenery and natural woods throughout.  Photography by Mikiko Kikuyama. 

Though chocolate in its polished form often steals the limelight, the humble cocoa bean is having a moment at the recently opened Kokak Chocolate Shop in the Castro District of San Francisco. Designed by the team at Studio BANAA, the 800-square-foot space pays homage to the origin story of chocolate, as well as that of the shop’s Filipino chocolatier, Carol Gancia. “We knew the space for [Gancia’s] first brick and mortar store needed to be just as delectably different as the treats themselves,” the designers note. “Our first step was to deconstruct the cocoa bean structure… The result was an inspiration of layering color, texture, and materials starting from the exterior facade into the interior, with the kitchen metaphorically acting as the core.” 

The recently-opened space features textural elements, such as the natural wood that lines the chocolate counter, and linear wayfinding cues from above, reflecting the complexity of the cocoa bean. But there’s also playful pink and green shades throughout. “Since the product is colorful and fun, we also wanted to bring in curves, and a ‘pop’ feel that is found in traditional chocolate shops throughout the world,” the designers add. Seating snakes around the perimeter while bubble gum-hued counter stools invite visitors to observe the chocolate-making process and, perhaps, snag a taste or two. 

Carol Gancia’s confections pop against the warm wood tones. Photography by Mikiko Kikuyama. 
Pink counter stools invite visitors to stay a while. Photography by Mikiko Kikuyama. 
The facade of the Kokak Chocolate Shop in the Castro District of San Francisco reflects the exterior of a cocoa bean.  Photography by Mikiko Kikuyama. 

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