How lucky can you get! That’s what A-Gent of Style thought when he came across his new topic yesterday in Fortnum & Mason. Three of his favourite hobbies – travel, food and design – encompassed in one product. Result.

As I was walking around the ground floor, I was suddenly drawn to the brilliant and colourful packaging and arresting artwork of Marou Faiseurs de Chocolat chocolate bars. Their visual identity is striking: colonial-like, art-deco graphics mixed with a panoply of vibrant colours and antique gold lettering that evoke nostalgia and exoticism.

Marou Faiseurs de Chocolat
are artisan chocolate makers based in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam who have created the first single origin gourmet bean-to-bar chocolate to come out of the country. Marou was founded over a year ago now by two adventurous Frenchmen who decided to use the small amounts of cacao beans harvested, fermented and dried on small family farms throughout the Mekong Delta and southern highlands of Vietnam, to make an extraordinary chocolate. Thankfully the country’s cocoa beans have been enjoying something of a revival in recent years.

The geographical location of the farm and its soil determine the characteristics of the cacao beans and therefore the flavour of the chocolate. Each bar is named after the province where it’s beans originated and ascribed a natural colour-shift from a greatly inspirational spectrum of hues. Deep vermillion to ochre yellow, grass green, midnight blue, and flushes of peacock aqua all appear.

The packaging is strongly linked to Vietnam: beautiful ceremonial papers that are still produced by artisanal printers in Cho Lon, the old Chinese quarter of Saigon, are hand printed with intricate traditional lattice patterns. Inspired by this illustration style, Rice Creativethe brilliant design studio responsible for Marou’s look, have hand drew their own original chocolate oriented ornaments of cacao pods, flowers and leaves, throwing in some heavenly looking clouds for the tropical monsoon. Their custom lattice pattern keeps a traditional look and creates a framework to incorporate some modernist typography, inspired by the old signage still found around the country. They also use the traditional silk-screen printing techniques to hand print the design in antique gold ink on each wrapper.

I now wished Marou had existed when I toured mesmerising Vietnam a couple of years ago. I now have to console myself in unwrapping those dark chocolate bars…Have a great weekend everyone!


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