Maggie Louise Confections launched as an online-only retailer of gourmet chocolates, and within a year and a half, business had skyrocketed. Quickly outgrowing its rented kitchen space, the logical next step for the flourishing chocolate atelier was to open a retail storefront. A design team from McKinney York Architects of Austin, TX, worked with the company to transform a building shell into a chic and functional establishment – complete with a full commercial kitchen, office and retail space.

Behind the scenes, the kitchen prioritizes flexibility, allowing equipment and configurations to change with the client’s needs. In the retail area, the scrumptious chocolates are displayed in a bespoke glass-top table. A canted mirror and wall aim to tantalize passersby -- reflecting a view of the table through the storefront -- while jewelry store-inspired shadow box displays bring seasonal chocolate vignettes to the sidewalk edge. Experienced both in-person and online, the space provides an elegant context befitting the candies and amplifying the Maggie Louise Confections brand, according to the design team.

“The design goal for this project was to create a high-end customer experience similar to a jewelry store for the selection and purchasing of boutique jewel-like chocolates,” explained 

Brian Carlson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, partner at McKinney York Architects. “The client had an inspiration image of a tile floor in a Parisian chocolate shop seen on one of her recent trips. We drew from the inspiration image and created a custom floor tile pattern using porcelain instead of marble. To create the pattern, the tiles were custom cut from larger tiles that measured 12 x 24 inches.

Carlson said that the design team pulled from its extensive materials library in their office, which gets updated regularly. “We used our library as a resource to source a tile that was the correct size, color and finish for the space,” he said. The final verdict was a white marble-look tile from Crossville’s Virtue collection, as well as Ebony – part of the manufacturer’s Cross Colors collection.

“We looked at several porcelain tile manufacturers that provided the marble look,” explained the architect. “We landed on two Crossville products because they not only had the white marble [aesthetic], but they also had a contrasting ebony tile. Both come in a matte finish, which contrasts nicely with the high gloss of the lacquered table.”

Carlson cites the angled mirror behind the table has one of the most memorable aspects of the project. “The mirror reflects the chocolates in the glass-top table and the dynamic black-and-white floor pattern,” he said, adding that his firm specifies porcelain tile for many of its commercial tenant finish outs. “This is our go-to material because of its durability and low maintenance. We rely heavily on our local manufacturer reps to keep us updated on new materials and trends.”