Welcome to Mjuk Mjuk, a neighbourhood soft gelato shop in Stockholm, Sweden!

In the summer of 2019 American gelato master Jeremy DiPaolo opened his first location of Mjuk Mjuk just north of Stockholm’s city centre. The brand’s focus is soft gelato, made from scratch with natural, high-quality ingredients. This love for the craft is embodied in the interior concept created by Studio Peter Lundbergh. It’s an unfussy, honest and straightforward design where both product and process share the stage as co-stars in the experience.

As a hospitality startup, Mjuk Mjuk needed the design to signal from the start that its offer was new and different and it could be an iconic destination for gelato lovers. It also needed to accomplish all this on a limited budget typical of a startup. This meant all the design choices had to be simple, intentional and punch well above their weight class.

The brand’s signature colour is the foundation for the design of the space. The vivid, industrial yellow punches through the traditional, subdued Nordic aesthetic, becoming the wayfinding element along the customer journey. The awning stands out against the building’s weathered stone facade, making an invasive statement of presence seen from a distance. Upon arrival, the guest is greeted by a dramatic yellow plastic curtain (common in factories and industrial spaces) which functionally separates production from service, but also immerses the guest into the world of Mjuk Mjuk. The final flashes of yellow come from the overhead LED sign inside the space as it cycles through an animation of the logo being shouted by the brand’s coincidentally bespectacled gelato mascot. This nod to nostalgic signage becomes the perfect backdrop for a quick Instagram shot before leaving.

Though it’s a small neighbourhood spot, everything is made in-house, which was something the design sought to celebrate in multiple layers. The storefront window frames in the action, with the yellow curtain providing an additional element to signal the transparent nature of seeing the making of the product. Even the white tile motif, a standard in commercial and residential kitchens, served double duty: they reinforce the made-from-scratch ethos and provide whiteboard space for scratching out recipes and ideas. A window into the mind of the gelato master: another level of looking in.

An unexpected benefit of the space during the Covid pandemic has been the configuration of the entryway. The glazed door and large, arched window have allowed for the shop to turn itself into a kiosk with only minimally sacrificing the experience. Service takes place through the doorway via a simple steel trolley. No guests have been allowed into the shop since early 2020, but they are still able to see and experience the space through the large window while in queue.

Mjuk Mjuk is not anchored to (or limited by) the traditional mores of the romantic Italian gelateria. The space is wrapped in a sense of forward-looking experimentation. The play happens right before the guests’ eyes. The heavy machines, kitchen equipment, raw materials all serve as actors within the experience. The handwritten menu is an ever-evolving text. The unique music playlist, occasionally punctuated by the grinding, whizzing, mechanical sounds of the espresso and gelato machines would feel more at home in an F.T. Marinetti piece. They live outside the all-too-familiar vanilla, chocolate and caramel pastiche of the typical gelateria. But these contrasts set the expectation that something unique, unexpected and delicious will come out the door.