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05 August 2020

The interior design secrets of a boutique hotel with a chocolate factory: Casa Cacao by Jordi Roca

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Sandra Tarruella Interioristas are responsible for the refined, pristine image of this ambitious cocoa-inspired business concept.

Sandra Tarruella and Ricard Trenchs, creative directors of Sandra Tarruella Interioristas

Photos: Merixell Arjalaguer

With a professional portfolio of more than 150 interior design jobs, some very substantial, Sandra Tarruella Interioristas leads a young team that includes professionals from a variety of fields, which has made the firm a benchmark in design both in Spain and internationally, receiving numerous awards for their work. 

They are behind the interior design concept of Michelin-starred restaurants like El Celler de Can Roca, Can Jubany and Celeri. One of their latest projects is Casa Cacao, Jordi Roca's boutique hotel, complete with a chocolate workshop.

1. Is interior design important to a chocolate shop? 

Interior design is an essential aspect of all retail businesses. It is a matter of order, functionality and aesthetics that cannot be ignored, for the sake of future business.

2.  Is it used to tempt in new customers?

More than tempting them in, it is an added value in the entire business plan. A very important element that can help increase business success.

3. What are the secrets to making a premises design work?

It has to be right for the type of business, attractive to customers, functional and comfortable.

4. What are the current trends in chocolate shop design? Luxury? Practicality? Modern, rustic or urban premises?

In our opinion, there is no one trend. We have been inspired by the idea of exhibiting the entire chocolate-making process to the public. Hence the goal of having a workshop visible from the street, where passers-by can learn about the entire chocolate confection process: from the arrival of the cocoa sacks to wrapping the chocolates, bars or other products.

Success story: Casa Cacao

Our relationship with Jordi Roca started many years ago, when we did the interior design for Celler de Can Roca. We have done other projects for him, as well, such as the Rocambolesc ice cream parlours. On this occasion, Jordi Roca started working with chocolate of varying origins and products with different shapes and flavours, which prompted him to go one step further and start a new creative process based on the rediscovery of cocoa. Casa Cacao was born of this passion and the desire to open a boutique hotel in Girona.

Dual project: workshop and hotel

The project started in early 2018 and we finished it in February 2020.

Casa Cacao is housed in a famous building in Girona, the former La Esperanza Clinic from the 1960s in Plaza Catalunya. The location and age of the building, together with the design of a chocolate factory, inspired the concept. Inspired by confectionery and chocolate shops of the era, their aesthetics, materials and the colourful wrappers, but through a modern prism suitable for this dual-purpose project.

Interior design details

The hotel needed to have a similar aesthetic to that of the Celler de Can Roca and the boutique concept of the proposal. We therefore selected fine materials, high-quality finishes, and a subtle, elegant aesthetic in harmony with past and present. The hotel reception lounge, shop, and even the workshop have a continuous walnut slat ceiling and continuous terrazzo flooring, in keeping with the lime-coloured wall covering. In line with this aesthetic, we have opted for classic furniture and pieces specially designed for the space. 

The welcoming hotel reception lounge is between two iron and glass walls to enhance the views of the two adjacent rooms. On one side, the store where you can see and buy the finished product, and on the other side, the workshop and its constant buzz.

A reception desk made of walnut wood and bush hammered stone in rounded and smooth shapes was specially designed. The glass partition that separates us from the store includes the product display unit, made of walnut marquetry, which serves as storage for hotel reception and exhibiting the store's products, so you can see the bonbons and chocolates from everywhere.

The store counter has rounded edges and is made of walnut wood and stone, and the central display furniture was acquired from an antique furniture store. The finished product room is also visible from the store through a glass window.

The cocoa bar is the chocolate tasting area, set in the double height room where the product is packaged. The furniture is designed to seamlessly meld with this process: the storage racks for packaging and tableware, a display unit made of light birch wood and vitrified tile, and communal tables and high bars suitable for quick service. The counter has replaceable surface featuring different materials, heights, glass panes and urns to exhibit the products that you can order at the bar. The high ceiling is accentuated by glass lamps and suspended rails. It is a very practical, fresh, youthful and orderly space, reminiscent of the confectionery factories of the era, with simple finishes and light colours.

The workshop is divided into different rooms used for the chocolate confection process. From the entrance to Plaza Catalunya, sacks containing cocoa beans from different origins arrive to be stored in plain sight on wooden shelves in a brutalist-style room. This space has a walnut wood ceiling that continues through the workshop room where cocoa is processed into chocolate, all in an industrial space with coloured ceramic tiles and stainless steel cladding. The room is warmly lit using a lamp with an industrial look.