If you were to design a shop that looked the way ice cream tasted, what would you come up with? Your answer to that question would probably say a lot about your favorite flavor, whether that’s triple chocolate topped with rich hot fudge or an airy vegan mint sorbet. For a Bronx business offering Cookie Monster sundaes and other quirky treats, something lighthearted and colorful was in order, and interior design firm Asthetíque certainly delivered.
“Ice Scream” opened at the Mall at Bay Plaza in December 2018, specializing in liquid nitrogen ice cream, which typically has a creamier, denser texture than the regular stuff and gives off a vapor resembling smoke. Naturally, these qualities make it highly selfie-worthy, so it only made sense to design the actual store to be similarly appealing. Founded by New Yorker Julien Albertini and Moscow-born designer Alina Pimkina, Asthetíque wanted to make sure guests had “plenty of Instagrammable moments” inside.
The firm came up with all of Ice Scream’s branding, from the interior design down to the uniforms, business cards, and packaging, infusing them all with a modernized take on the 1980s Memphis design movement. They call it “a waffle cone of modernism, pop art, and a sprinkle of 1950s Kitsch design style,” as characterized by things like its soothing pastel color palette accented by neon lights, abstract geometric shapes, and living palm trees.
It’s those shapes that first get shoppers’ attention as they approach the entrance, reflecting brightly off the front window. Pass beyond the chic vertical oak cladding of the facade, and you’ll enter a space that instantly feels refreshing, with a vaguely tropical vibe and fun retro touches apparent all around. The 24-seat ice cream parlor features four main arches accented by multicolored LED lighting that slowly alternates through a rainbow of colors. Each sign features its own back-lit wooden slogan, like “Ice Scream is Better Than Therapy.”
The designers say they beveled the inner edges of the ceiling to make it feel as if it were carved out by an ice cream scooper, installing rainbow lights along the perimeter to further highlight it. Below that, the space is anchored by a central 15-foot-long communal table with a white oak plank tabletop, with high-top wooden tables and stools lining the parlor’s outer walls.
“The main architectural feature is the Ice Scream shop’s cash wrap,” says Asthetíque. “The facade of the counter was custom painted to match the brand’s signature multicolored motif. Pastel pinks, blues, and yellows form an abstract camouflage print which is overlaid by white geometric shapes. This striking feature entices patrons to photograph the distinctive process of utilizing liquid nitrogen to create the smoothest ice cream.”
“With it’s neo-Memphis design, Ice Scream was manifested to create a vibrant yet relaxed milieu allowing for a full mental holiday. Consciously elevating the nitrogen Ice Scream brand experience while bringing courageous and modern updates to the habitual ice cream space was what Asthetíque set [out] to achieve, and the nostalgia of this era was brought to the forefront to lure hearts in one scoop at a time.”