A place where Minnesota's design community can blow its collective mind about creative expression in every medium from websites to landscapes, chocolate to bicycles.

Theo Chocolate 3400 Phinney

Posted: March 24th, 2008 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, opinion, packaging | 1 Comment »

Chocolate
The organic and fair trade certified “Nib Brittle” bar featured here contains 65% cacao which is a little low for high end dark chocolate. The flavor isn’t any lower though so if you’re not a percentage snob and just want an unique treat that won’t mark you as someone who buys chocolate at gas stations this could be the one for you. The flavor is sweet and the texture gives the impression of raw sugar in the mix. There’s a slightly woody after taste which isn’t super appealing but is easily overcome by taking another bite. The really good news is that listed under “Nutrition Facts” it says serving size is one bar. That means when your girlfriend asks you to share you can say no based on a legitimate fear of being malnourished. Although, I’d recommend surprising her with a bar of her very own so you don’t end up sleeping on the sofa.

Design
Theo caught my eye again. This time with a series of whimsical illustrative wrappers around flavored dark and milk chocolate bars named for the address of their factory in Seattle. The packaging is more fantastic work by Kitten Chops so you can order the type of chocolate you like comfortable in the knowledge that it will attract favorable attention on your desk at work amidst all the screen printed concert posters and Kidrobot collectables.

You can learn more about Theo’s full range of products by visiting their website (which despite my recommendation they haven’t let Kitten Chops redesign yet. Which is not only too bad for visitors but means my opinion holds considerably less sway in the national design community than I had led myself to believe.

Online
Theo Chocolate

Location
3400 Phinney Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98103
206 632.5100 phone

Available through The Meadow or Amazon.com. Is there anything you can’t buy through Amazon?


Kshocolat

Posted: March 11th, 2008 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, packaging | Comments Off

Chocolate
Scotland seems an unlikely place for a chocolate company, but then so does Minnesota. Perhaps they cherish the rich, warm flavor of good chocolate for the same reasons we do here in the land of perpetual ice and snow. The flavor of the 69% dark chocolate bar is warm and slightly honey sweet. There seems to be a very light mint finish and the overall effect is quite subtle. I would suggest that this would be a good chocolate to nibble on during a heavy make-out session but I won’t because I know this blog is read by millions of school children around the world who would interpret that as “gross” which of course is the reverse of what I mean.

Design
The 1.5 oz bar featured here is not actually bar shaped but a square divided into four smaller squares. It seems slightly thicker and makes a great snap when you bite into it. Packaging and website design were created by Marque and both are really fantastic. The entire line of chocolates is given some consistency through the use of clean contemporary design with rich, earthy tones and strong, sans serif type. The tins are super cool and you would want to find another use for them once emptied of their chocolate goodness.

Based in Scotland (with additional offices in London and New York) Third Eye Design has a nice collection of clean and elegant design work in their portfolio and the packaging they’ve done for Kshocolat is no exception. They also created the website which is something of a stand out in this category. The black background and reflections aren’t exactly revolutionary but do a great job of enhancing all the colors for a rich effect. Their is some bold type similar to the packaging, but the site is pretty light on information. That’s strange since most chocolatiers are so eager to tell you the source(s) of their cacoa. It would be nice if they added that somewhere. I also think the Kshocolat logo would look great in white on a dark chocolate brown t-shirt but perhaps I’m getting carried away.

Online
Kshocolat Chocolate

Location
113 West Regent St, 3rd Floor
Glasgow G2 2RU
0141.222.2222

Available through The Meadow. You can also order it from them through Amazon.com. My order shipped quickly and even included a sample of another chocolate and a coupon for my next order. Cool!


Vere Chocolate

Posted: March 1st, 2008 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, opinion, packaging | Comments Off

Company
Vere Chocolate (pronounced very) is fair wage, organic, sustainable, certified, vegan and a bunch of other good stuff. In a time when even Wal Mart has jumped on the “organic” bandwagon (which seems a little dubious) any of these could be considered the marketing spin d’jour, but added together and in conjunction with the attention to detail lavished on design it suggests the company is going far beyond the common way to produce chocolate you can feel good about while you revel in your violation of that commandment about gluttony (It is better savored in small doses but if you have to eat a lot of something this is probably more pure than the air you’re breathing). This attention to quality is hard to mass produce which makes obtaining it from their New York shop harder than hitting the vending machine but honestly would you want it any other way?

Chocolate
Vere makes many different chocolate delicacies but I’ve restricted myself to dark chocolate bars. This one is 75% cacao, low sugar and contains a grand total of five ingredients so it’s fairly stiff and simple. It is also pretty unique in your mouth. It has a slightly bitter aspect but isn’t in the least bit heavy or oily and has almost no after taste. For some reason it reminds me of water – refreshing, but not in that horrible, artificial, minty, way tooth paste companies mean. You could almost use it to cleanse your palette which is rather remarkable and a very interesting parallel to the packaging.

Design
The square box containing two stacked bars is a delightful change from the typical rectangular configuration and the company’s earth and body friendly philosophy is further evidenced by the absence of plastic or foil. The minimalist, stark white box adorned with the simple vere logotype serves a thoughtful counterpoint to a dash of chaos in the form of chocolate drizzled the way a chef in a fancy restaurant would put it on a plate containing an agonizingly small slice of the kind of chocolate cake that will keep you up all night. The bars themselves are great fun too (divided in half with the top divided in half again) they are evocative of the golden ratio, except yummier. What is also interesting is that owner Kathy Moskal was and is deeply involved in developing and implementing the creative approach throughout the company. She collaborated with designer Brigid Kavanagh who also worked with Kathy on the creation of packaging for legwear company Hue and is now busy working with New York’s MoMA and Chilewich. Victor Schrager provided the photography and with any luck got stuck with the delicious task of cleaning up.

The website is similarly clean and straightforward letting the chocolates play the role of hero. There are a few break downs in the CSS that an impending redesign will fix. But don’t wait to take a spin through the site to learn more about the company’s philosophy. You’ll see that design plays an integral role.

Update
03.23.2010: It looks like the Vere is no longer making Chocolates and the website is now dedicated to another, non-chocolaty product line.