The rise of the designer bakery
Princi is a wonderful shop. Whether in Italy or in London, the experience is wonderful: the products are excellent, the shops are beautiful, the staff are knowledgeable and helpful, and there is bake-o-tainment (bakers are baking in front of you) which is both visually and olfactorally stimulating. Of course you pay for it – in the same way you pay for any other top quality experience.
Incredibly, Princi has been eclipsed by bakeries that, sadly, are not so close to home. From Australia to Turkey to Norway to Japan, a new crop of “designer bakeries” has emerged where the bread can cost up to $500. Sharp intake of breath and a bit of a disbelieving chuckle later, it does not necessarily sound unreasonable. For the super rich, $500 is not a lot of money to spend on a meal and even for the not so super rich it is pretty easy to spend $500 (£350) on a mediocre meal for 4 in London’s West End. For a top quality loaf that you can take home and top with the topping of your choice – or eat naked, it’s that good – it begins to sound not so outlandish. Ok, it’s ridiculous, but let’s continue…
What makes a designer bakery?
What makes something “designer” is the design. More specifically it is how the design of the “purchase and usage” experience (buying and eating when it comes to food) develops and supports a product’s or service’s reputation for quality and exclusivity. The designer package, whether it is Chanel or Apple, has four parts:
1. Price – a high price point is only maintained if the experience consistently supports it.
2. Innovation – the product or service must be original and unique.
3. Functionality – the product or service must meet our complicated needs during the entire purchase and usage experience.
4. Aesthetics – let’s face it, we consume with our eyes.
In the case of the designer bakeries, these four parts are absolutely upheld. They sell incredible baked goods at super premium prices. They get away with it because both the baked goods and the shops are gorgeous to look at, having been designed by top designers around the world. In fact, designers are far more likely to have heard of these bakeries than bread heads, simply because they are icons of recent design. The product is top quality: everything is at least partially hand made or hand finished using the finest ingredients in the world. The buying experience is terrific: knowledgeable and passionate staff serving you on the spot using hand-held devices to tot up your purchases before packaging them in bags and boxes that cost more than the product itself. From beginning to end, the experience is beautiful, functional and luxurious, just like shopping at the best clothing boutique, jewellery shop or car show room in the world. The difference is that although the price point may seem high when compared to Greggs, it is not high compared to Rolls Royce, Aspreys or Chanel. Almost anyone can afford the cheapest thing on the menu in a bakery, no matter how expensive the top price item is.
So, for the list…in no particular order:
La Patisserie des Reves (Paris)
United bakery (Oslo and Drammen)
Baker D Chirico (Australia)
If you would like to be on the list, please send photos, invite us to come and sample your product and service, and otherwise agitate. We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you in the near future!