Years ago, Christof and his wife Isabella visited me and asked me to make something for their shop. Isabella had always been at Christoph’s side when he ran his own business and she was now ready to start her own enterprise. Together they opened ‘Isabella Glutenfreie Patisserie’. It is a pretty special thing to give up one career in order to embark on a completely new profession.
Various Isabella-branches have opened in Germany since our first meeting, and we have designed and made parts of the interiors. We are actually becoming more and more involved with every new store. I was also involved in thinking about the layout for the newest shop in Cologne. When the shop opened its doors, they had to close again straight away due to the development of the coronavirus. This means there are only photos of the shop without customers.
What seemed very logical, yet very different at the same time, is that the higher, front part of the shop with the long counter was actually much smaller. By extending the higher section, we were able to create much more space for the sales counter where the beautiful and delicious pastries and bread are displayed. Enlarging the space at the front makes the store much more welcoming. The shops are clearly recognisable, but we always choose to rethink and design each store individually. So no two Isabella shops are the same!
A few months ago I was with Christof in Munich, where they will soon also be opening a branch. We had some free time and used it to visit a museum of modern art; Christof is also an art-lover. In the taxi we talked about children. Christof’s sons are both involved in his business and he told me that one of them is planning to open many more shops. He also told me that they often had discussions about ‘Isabella’. The argument that he knew what he was doing because he has already owned a business didn’t count, as none of them has prior experience in running a bakery. That was when I realised that it is a family business, being built up by father, mother and children together! And not, as is usually the case, taken over by the next generation.
Photography: Thomas Mayer
Please click here for more information about Isabella Düsseldorf (2015).