For every “fresh”, “vegan” and “farm to table” concept in Los Angeles, you will find a cupcake shop, cookie stand, or gourmet bakery to match it (… of course with a Soul Cycle in between). While each one is typically executed in trendy interior design cues, contemporary branding and graphic design, and usually a gesture of visual merchandising – more often than not, the “experience” leaves a lot to be desired. That said, upon a recent trip to LA I stumbled upon two unique “sweet concepts” that allow the experience to transcend the sweet treats themselves (albeit very good in their own right). 

Au Fudge in West Hollywood is where fresh food meets creativity and even features a classroom for hands-on learning for both mom and kids. The combination curated retail (“marketplace” as they call it), café space, and classroom (“creative space”) work cohesively to offer a lifestyle experience for all ages. The décor has an old meets new style enveloped in white space with brilliant accents. The customer journey unfolds with each room – starting with an amazing outdoor seating niche, welcoming guests inside to discover all of the facets and experiences of Au Fudge. The brand exudes a playful wit in color, material selections and merchandising offerings (who doesn’t want a hat that says Au Fudge?!) and makes guests want to take the time to explore and experience all that the space has to offer. Check out their “Commandments” on their website, a tongue-in-cheek conversation about the rules (especially when bringing kids) to Au Fudge. One can appreciate the clarity in the branding behind this concept.

Further down Melrose is Duff’s Cake Mix – while built out with more of a warehouse/studio feel, it is a bright, fresh space that caters to walk-in cake decorating and appointment based parties … fun, crafty, and smelled amazing! While Duff may be known for extraordinarily crafted cakes by his renowned design team, this concept store flips that idea on its head and allows the guest to become the designer. Offering pre-made cakes and cupcakes with a never-ending combination of toppings and assorted add-ons. The experience felt fun, creative, approachable for all ages, and best of all … low pressure!