Sugar & Steel: Pâtisserie À la Folie by Anne Sophie Goneau

Snapshot: Fascinating fondants, mesmerizing macaroons, and titillating truffles are arrayed like precious jewels in the lighted steel and glass cases of Pâtisserie À la Folie in Montreal, Quebec. The minimal storefront designed by Anne Sophie Goneau acts as a neutral backdrop, purposefully highlighting and guiding all senses toward the vibrant pastries within.

Located on the busy and colorful Mont-Royal in Montreal, the team at Anne Sophie Goneau sought to turn Pâtisserie À la Folie into a kind of mythological reflecting pool, wherein restrained greys and simple lines calmly extol and enhance the beauty of the pastries within and the street without. Yet customers won't waste away admiring their own reflections here, in fact they may gain a pound or two just by gazing upon the vibrant variety of house made indulgences offered by À la Folie.

As tempting sounds and smells waft over the mid height wall separating the kitchen from the store, customers peruse confections in refrigerated cases under a band of hemlock boards that span the length of the space, and bring to mind a sort of fantastic conveyor belt rolling out the impossibly perfect tarts and pastries below. The glass topped steel display cases are dramatically illuminated from above by thin LED lighting rods that mirror the delicate legs of the boxes. The refrigeration workings are cleverly hidden in the basement, allowing for purity of line and space within the storefront. The grey monochrome of the walls and floor create a neutral backdrop to the riotous glow of the colorful confections, demonstrating a purposeful design restraint by Goneau so effective as to create full sensorial focus on the shapes, textures, and hues of the pastries on display.

While a minimalist pastry shop may sound strange, Anne Sophie Goneau's confident and subdued design speaks not only to an inspired vision of a highly curated experience, but to the quality and beauty of the products of Pâtisserie À la Folie, on which that experience ultimately relies.

Stéphane Groleau photography