«I dream of a miniature chocolate world.»

From the spectacular church organ in “La vie en rose” to the flowing chocolate wall at Schwanenplatz: The exclusive Confiserie Bachmann outlets all bear Marc Jöhl’s signature. In an interview, the freelance architect explains why he still looks forward to new projects after almost 20 years of collaboration with the company.

Marc Jöhl, the Confiserie Bachmann sales outlets have your very own unmistakable style. What is important when you planning a specialist store?
Marc Jöhl: In any new project, my primary goal is not the design but to make an experience for the visitor. Customers should enter a specialist store and feel happy because they find exactly what they are looking for. And then of course there is another very important goal in every project. 

And that is?
Success and sustainability. They are our top priority. Even as an architect, I can happily take on the role of an entrepreneur.

You chose the cafe on Schwanenplatz as the venue for our meeting. Is it the most important specialist Confiserie Bachmann store?
Certainly the most prestigious. Every day, hundreds of tourists from all over the world visit this specialist store. At the same time, there are lots of people from Lucerne who also purchase things here. The employees have to be able to cater to these different needs time and time again, something I think is demanding and challenging.

The “Flowing Chocolate Wall” in the specialist store on Schwanenplatz not only appeals to children. Do ideas like these just come to you? 
On the contrary. There is a lot of hard work behind every single idea. When I’m working on a new project, I often work well into the early hours trying to think of a way to master the task. The ideal scenario is of course when the solution I come up with not only appeals to the management but also the customers.

You’ve been working with Confiserie Bachmann for almost 20 years now. After that length of time, do you not sense a kind of a routine or even boredom?
Not at all! On the one hand, every new contract brings its own new challenges, and, on the other, the industry is in a permanent state of change. And this makes our collaboration really interesting. When I started out here 20 years ago, there were so many bakeries and patisseries with their backs to the wall because people preferred to buy their bread from retail outlets. And that is actually something that is still felt today. But because of this challenge, we were in fact able to surpass ourselves.

«It is a partnership of mutual appreciation and trust.»

In what way?
When the pressure rises, a company has two options: Either you give up or you develop. Twenty years ago, all bakeries looked alike: Very minimalist in terms of furnishings with just one counter and a few baked goods on display. The Confiserie Bachmann was the first company to start dealing with interior design in a more creative way. This courage has certainly paid off.

What do you particularly value about the partnership with an old established company?
It is a partnership of mutual appreciation and trust. When we start a new project, I love trying out new things and deliberately take risks.

Who dares wins ...
I’m absolutely convinced that a company can only ever hope to be successful if they are prepared to stick their necks out. And Confiserie Bachmann is a perfect example of this.

Which project of recent years is of particular importance to you?
There’s probably most blood, sweat and tears in “La vie en rose”. It’s no secret that Lucerne’s pubs and clubs are currently going through hard times. Which is why it pleases me all the more that “La vie” is so successful and so popular with the people of Lucerne.

What makes this venue so special?
In this project, we have succeeded in creating a timeless venue that caters to all tastes. Different themed areas invite you to meet with friends, read a newspaper in peace and quiet, swap stories with others or simply sit back and enjoy, depending on the situation, time of day and atmosphere. The “La vie” is quite simply “the place to be”.

What ideas would you like to put into practice in the future?
I dream of a miniature chocolate world in which customers can see the production process close up and at the end of the day taste chocolate they have made themselves. That would be a real crowd-puller! So far, we have not found the time or the right place to implement this project, but I am not prepared to give up on this dream yet (he says smiling).