The art of indulgence
Wintertime is chocolate time. We spoke to Melanie Hübel from Berlin’s chocolate manufacturer Sawade about Christmas specialties and the restart after the Covid years.
Almost ten years ago, the Hübel couple took over the traditional Berlin company Sawade. The young newcomers to the industry set about revamping the dusty image, streamlining the product range and creating a modern image. Melanie Hübel, a trained graphic designer, was in charge of the latter. The Sawade shops also received a completely new look.
right: the Hübels in the Hackesche Höfe
A good match: Hackesche Höfe
The shop in courtyard 2 of the Hackesche Höfe was the first in which the new brand identity was consistently implemented. For this reason alone, it has a special significance for Melanie Hübel. To this day, it is the company's flagship store. Tourists come here anyway. But among the residents of the neighborhood and the courtyards themselves many regular customers have also been won, Hübel reports with satisfaction. She is convinced by the concept of the courtyards, which relies on owner-managed businesses and regional manufactures. That matches Sawade.
left: Sawade flagship store in the Hackesche Höfe
Advent calendar by illustrator Kat Menschik
Christmas without chocolate and marzipan? Unimaginable. The Advent and Christmas season is crucial in the confectionery industry. Sawade does a considerable amount of its annual business during Advent. Of course, the company presents an extensive Christmas assortment. The motifs of their Advent calendars stand out pleasantly from the usual Christmas kitsch. This year, the well-known Berlin illustrator Kat Menschik has once again created a cheerily playful portrait of a woman for the calendar. Another motif commemorates the Sawade founder, his first confectionery shop "Unter den Linden" and his mysterious neighbor, Madame Marie de Savadé.
right: one of two Advent calendar motives
Sawade specialties such as chocolates filled with mulled wine, baked apple or speculoos guarantee a Christmas atmosphere. Of course, marzipan plays an important role. Only fine marzipan made to Sawade's own recipe is used for marzipan loaves and potatoes. Melanie Hübel reports that the marzipan potatoes are coated with a wafer-thin layer of chocolate in a traditional process in a copper kettle – not with cocoa powder like supermarket goods. Marzipan also goes into the Sawade cake, which is as multilayered as it is weighty, and it too is a popular Christmas item.
Tradition’s right on trend
All Sawade products are handmade in Berlin-Reinickendorf. Only high-quality natural raw materials and natural flavors are used. In addition to a fresh brand image, Sawade focuses on high quality and traditional recipes. Eccentric or fashionable flavors won’t make it into the box. However, Sawade is happy to embrace one trend: "We have always been vegan," says Hübel with a laugh – at least with a large part of the range: Neither their marzipan nor their dark chocolate contain milk or animal fats. The company is responding and now sells traditional products in a vegan line.
left: mistletoes adorn the Sawade christmas line.
Art as packaging
With chocolates, beautiful packaging is particularly important. Sawade is now taking the art of packaging one step further: In collaboration with the Berlin online gallery Kunst100, five artists were selected and asked to each create a work in praline box format for Sawade. These works were printed in a limited edition of 100 each on Fine Art paper. They can now be purchased hand-signed with a box of Sawade chocolates at an affordable price. The campaign, launched in October 2022, has been "very well received," Hübel is pleased to report. The first works will soon be sold out. So anyone still looking for a special Christmas present with a Berlin connection should get a move on.
right: art in praline box format
Back on track
Sawade chocolates are not available in supermarkets but exclusively online, in specialised shops and in their seven own stores in Berlin. Chocolates are a luxury, not a "necessity of life." That's why the Sawade shops had to close in spring 2020 as part of the Covid measures. And that shortly before Easter, the second-most important season in the confectionery business – a disaster. The company, which until then had been put on a good course by the Hübels, began to flounder. But Sawade was saved and is now running smoothly again. Melanie Hübel still believes in her concept: "This is a good time for manufactories. People have a longing for distinctive regional products and artisan craftsmanship. But a company cannot live on longing alone. If you want such products to continue to exist, you have to buy them.