C&G Partners has designed the recently opened Ample Hills Creamery factory in Red Hook. Storytelling plays a central role in C&G Partners' visitor experience designs for the new 15,000 square foot facility where ice cream lovers can learn about the flavor creation process, watch production in action, sample the exclusive ice cream offerings and celebrate the company's Brooklyn heritage.
In addition to the 12,500 square feet of factory production space, making it the largest ice cream factory in New York City, the location features an additional 2,000 square feet for an interactive ice cream museum, retail dipping counter and expansive party areas.
The space uses storytelling to provide an engaging visitor journey that recounts how cofounder husband and wife duo Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna became ice cream purveyors, explains the manufacturing process and highlights the fast-growing company's local roots. This includes wall graphics incorporating the line from Walt Whitman's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry that inspired the its name: "I too lived-Brooklyn of ample hills was mine."
When planning the new factory, Ample Hills Creamery decided to go beyond just creating a place to make its product: they wanted to welcome visitors into the narrative of how and why they make ice cream, and highlight the company's deep connection to Brooklyn.
"The story behind Ample Hills Creamery plays a significant role in what makes the company different, interesting and successful," said Keith Helmetag, co founder and partner, C&G Partners, who managed the project. "We developed a range of design elements to articulate their unique narrative and engage factory visitors in a way that's informative and entertaining."
Entering the factory, the space opens onto the central dipping counter, crowned with a colorful Ample Hills Creamery gantry sign reflective of Brooklyn's iconic rooftop signage typologies such as the neighboring Kentile Floors factory in Gowanus. A miniature trolley runs across it, harkening back to Red Hook's original train line.
Behind this retail space, the ice cream museum area features numerous interactive elements and design details by C&G Partners, in collaboration with Lauren Kaelin, Ample Hills Creamery creative director. The museum walks visitors through the narrative of how Ample Hills makes ice cream and peels back the layers of the flavor creation process.
The experience centers around a self-guided plant tour. With observational views onto the factory floor, C&G Partners created tour stops along the ice cream making process from homogenization to small batch making. Floor-to-ceiling observation windows serve as look-in points, flanking each step of the ice cream making process.
Each station is accompanied by interactive displays with interpretive panels and analog interactives that tell stories in order to bring the experience to life. These include a station where visitors can smell different flavors, and a thermometer knob at the pasteurization window. The display stations are shaped to match the signature spoons in the lids of Ample Hills pints, with each five-foot long "spoon" offering hands-on participation.
Custom-made overhead light fixtures in the museum area resemble downward-facing oversized ice cream scoops. An ice cream color palette is used for the outer side of the scoop lights, as well as back wall and window lettering.
Photography: Liz Clayman