Dandelion Chocolate Factory

Architect: Gensler

Owner: Dandelion Chocolate Factory

Location: San Francisco, CA

This new home for Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco embodies the company’s core mission and brand. In a previously vacant century-old industrial warehouse, the growing Dandelion Chocolate has the space it needs to both engage the community and showcase the skill of small-batch artisan chocolate.

Founded in the Bay Area in 2010, Dandelion Chocolate has emerged as a leader in America’s craft chocolate movement. Its new home required a wide array of uses, including production space, a cafe, an elegant tasting station, and a retail area. Throughout the redesigned and retrofitted space, every detail engages the senses. To reinforce the idea of craft and tradition, the team opted for finishes and details that echo the spirit of manufacturing. The brush-painted wood siding, handmade tile, and redwood millwork found throughout help enunciate the design intent.

Guests are greeted by a marble entry stone with an inlaid cocoa pod, then led to a chocolate and espresso bar boasting a custom redwood counter and windows that reference the building’s previous use and draw in natural light. Centering the space is the jewel-box chocolate salon, where the tasting experience is enhanced by beveled glass walls, polished brass surfaces, and slabs of redwood. Beyond the salon, guests can see the production area, where the process of crafting chocolate is seemingly ceaseless. An elevated catwalk evolves into stepped seating, prompting a close look at the production process. In a nearby classroom space, the company’s chocolate connoisseurs provide information on sourcing and production.

To support the design of the production and business operations sections of the new space, the design team became intimately involved with the cocoa production process. Executed with extreme attention to detail, the design supports all facets of the production of artisanal chocolate. The required MEP systems are concealed where possible in an effort to reduce visual clutter and boost the simple industrial character of the space. Work spaces can be flexed into gathering spaces and are fitted with custom-made desks from a local woodworker.

"I think this design hits on all cylinders; it connects the landscape, building exterior, and interiors through material color and texture...it creates an open, airy, dramatic interior spaces that are well finished, attractive and comfortable for students..." - Jury comment

Additional information

Interior Design/ Architecture: Gensler

Base-Building Renovation Architect: Gensler

Contractor: Terra Nova Industries

Structural Engineer: Murphy Burr Curry, Inc.

MEP Engineer: Henderson Engineers Inc

Lighting Consultant: Gensler


Zena Howard, FAIA (Chair), Perkins + Will, Charlotte, North Carolina

Benjamin de Rubertis, AIA, Flad Architects,  Seattle, Washington

Kelly Haigh, AIA, Design Lab Architect, Boston, Massachusetts

James Garrett, AIA, 4RM+ULA, St. Paul, Minnesota

Kelly Bauer, NCIDQ, FIIDA, White Baux Studio, Phoenix, Arizona

Image credits

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Ryan Gobuty

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Ryan Gobuty

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Ryan Gobuty

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Ryan Gobuty

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Ryan Gobuty