A combination of tile products was utilized in the design of Hershey's Chicago - located along Chicago's Magnificent Mile - to create a fun festive environment for the candy store.

While the sweet aroma of Hershey candy is alluring on its own, the design of the company's new flagship store in Chicago presents a fun and interactive atmosphere for patrons to visit. The designers at JGA of Southfield, MI, utilized a varying selection of tile products to create a crisp, clean look - reflective of a confectionary kitchen.

The retail establishment features a café area, where patrons can customize cupcakes, cookies and brownies. The walls and columns in this space are clad with American Olean 3-by-6-inch subway tile accented by 3/4-by-3/4-inch glass mosaic pieces from Bisazza.
"Hershey has a long heritage with Chicago," explained Gordon Eason, Creative Director of JGA, who worked on the project with Chairman Ken Nisch and Senior Designer Jeff Clark. "Milton Hershey was intrigued with German manufacturing equipment that was at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893." It was after a visit to this exposition, which was held in Chicago, that Milton Hershey, founder of The Hershey Co., began producing cocoa and sweet chocolate confections. "[The equipment] allowed chocolate to be made in a manner that it became popularly accessible," said Eason.

And while a Hershey Store set in the center of Times Square in New York City was built prior to Hershey's Chicago, a great amount of planning went into the Windy City's location to make it unique. Although the new 3,000-square-foot store does combine elements of the New York establishment, it was designed with its own character. "It reconnects to the legacy that uniquely joins Chicago history and Hershey," according to a design statement released by JGA.

Hershey's Chicago occupies the corner of the Loyola University building, which features collegiate gothic architecture. It is set within the epicenter of the Magnificent Mile - an area famous for its line-up of retail shops. "Hershey was looking for a great location for a flagship store, and Chicago was a key place to go," said Eason. "This is a one of a kind specialty store. There are certain elements of the New York store. We talked about how the New York store is spicy - it has to be because it is in Times Square. Chicago is more savory. The flooring has more mellow tones."

The glazed ceramic subway tile played an essential role in creating the look of a confectionary kitchen.

Product selection

According to the designer, the client was very involved in the design process. "Tile is a key part in the overall finishes and features process," he said. "We looked at all aspects of the interior composition. Certainly, flooring is a key part [of the design]. Numerous schemes were studied, and we considered different materials and patterns with a very inspired client who really enjoys the process. They are great to work with, and like to see lots of options."

The flooring throughout the store consists of 20-by-20-inch porcelain tile from Crossville's Empire series, which was supplied by Virginia Tile Co. Additionally, American Olean 3-by-6-inch glazed ceramic subway tile - also supplied by Virginia Tile Co. - accented by 3/4-by-3/4-inch Bisazza glass mosaic pieces - were employed for the walls and columns in the store's café area.

Throughout the store, 20-by-20-inch porcelain tile from Crossville's Empire series was employed.
"Ultimately the right solutions were the ones that had a sense of permanence - that looked like it had been there enduring time, yet very appropriate to the food production environment," said Eason. "Visually, it feels like a confectionary kitchen."

The designer went on to explain that the large-format tile was chosen because of the grander size of the space. "It is more dramatic to use large-format tile," he said. "There are two different zones. In the front is the high-ceiling zone. We wanted a great floor to anchor the space. The back portion of the store really became the custom candy kitchen area. The ceilings are lower. That's where you see the subway tile on the wall."

The café area is complete with fresh-baked cookies and "Cocoa-To-Go." One of the highlights of this unique bakery experience is the "Hersheyizers," who entertain visitors as they custom decorate a selection of delicious cupcakes, cookies and brownies. Another focal point at Hershey's Chicago is the Magnificent Chocolate Works machine, which permits patrons to create and dispense a personalized mix of Hershey's products, including Hershey's miniatures, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey's Kisses brand chocolates and more. Additionally, large graphic panels encompass the perimeter of the store - offering another visual branding by displaying vintage Hershey's advertising messages.

Large-format tile was believed to add a dramatic effect to the design and anchor the floor to the space, which features a 22-foot-high ceiling in the front of the store.
All in all, the mix of varying sizes and types of tile were instrumental in developing a bright festive environment for Hershey's Chicago - making it a signature landmark along the city's Magnificent Mile. Construction on the project began in January 2005, and the store opened for business in May of the same year.