Mi Pan Bakery, Mexico City, Mexico

We love bakeries. And we especially love bakeries with a true sense of design and style. We have written about bakeries for almost two decades and we continue to look for fresh ideas.

In the Mi Pan Bakery project, we love the candid admission of the designers that they recognized they could not create a design that was too modern, too funky or too different as it might turn people away and intimidate tradition-loving customers who are not used to “designer” bakeries. Yet the designers also wanted to evoke a distinctive feeling of newness and freshness to update the image of the 40-year-old brand.

For four decades, Mi Pan has been a bakery for everyone, for young and old. It was important for the brand to remain an “everyone’s” bakery, to not appear snobbish or pretentious. And as bread is an integral part of many Mexican traditions and celebrations, it was important to continue the open-to-all and part-of-everyone’s-life brand values.

The work was completed by Concentrico, an interdisciplinary collaboration studio of architects and designers, based in San Pedro Garza Garcia, Monterrey, Mexcio. The studio is led by creative director Alejandro Peña Villarreal who was also the head architect of the Mi Pan project. Other key project leads were architects Ana Rebeca Mata and Jose Maria Cuevas and industrial designer May Cisneros.

To understand the project’s connection with the near and distant past of Mexico, the designers at Concentrico not only analyzed the history of the brand but also the visual and practical traditions and customs of Mexican bakeries in general.

As a result, the bakery’s promise “Siempre bueno masa a migaja” – always good from dough to crumb – remains unchanged and it is also highly visible on the back wall of the store. The aprons of the staff carry the message “Prueba el Pan de Verdad” – Try the real bread.

The overall ambiance of the bakery is open and clean, warm and inviting, but it is not cozy or homey. There is a sense of production and large scale with metal trays, rows of shelving and large displays.

There are few visual or physical barriers between the customers and the bakers, and the active production pace of a busy bakery is openly visible to all. At the exit, customers will encounter a display of the traditional celebratory breads, Rosca de Reyes and Pan de Muertos.

“Rosca de Reyes” (kings’ wreath) is a Mexican traditional celebratory bread wreath enjoyed with family and friends on “Dia de Reyes” on January 6th (Epiphany Day or Kings Day). A small plastic figurine is placed inside the wreath symbolising baby Jesus. The person who finds the figurine is expected to throw a fiesta and serve tamales for everyone on” Dia de la Candelaria” on February 2.

“Pan de Muertos” (bread of the dead) is an essential part of a “Dia de Los Muertos” (celebrated in October or November) home shrine or ofrenda. The bread’s purpose is to nourish the dead who visit the land of the living on that day. Tuija Seipell

Images Jose Miguel Gonzales/Apertura Studio, Juan Pablo Tavela/Jpark Studio

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