This charming 1,800 sq. ft. retail space, located in the revitalized historic neighborhood of Penn Quarter, is housed in a 1890’s building with residential units above which GTM Architects also restored and renovated. The historic façade renovation and building addition were designed in collaboration with the DC Historic Review Board to preserve its original character and detailing. The design concept for the retail space was to create an urban showcase for artisanal cheeses, reminiscent of the client’s first shop in San Francisco. The existing space, which was quite long and narrow, has been transformed into a sleek, inviting shop to highlight their unique fare and provide clientele with an artisanal experience.
The pristine white walls and subway wall tiles help showcase the various cheeses. The glass tile behind the front counter provides a refreshing punch of color – a cool counterpoint to the warm eucalyptus wood cabinetry, cypress wood countertops and bamboo floors. A custom soffit detail and slowly revolving industrial fans (which also serve to keep the flies away) enhance the connection to the original store’s location in the historic Ferry building along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The Washington D.C. location’s narrow width presented a difficult challenge: to unite two separate rooms into one cohesive retail space, which would encourage the customer to browse and experiment with diverse varieties of cheeses and assorted accoutrements. Providing framed views helps to visually shorten the space. A gallery with photos of the cheese making process leads to the main cheese counter. From there, a small window frames the activity in the commercial kitchen beyond, allowing customers to watch cheeses being made. The minimalist design and monochromatic palette is deferential to the varied colors, shapes and sizes of the dozens of different cheeses displayed, as well as the fresh baked breads and array of wines.