Kohler chocolate shop: Hall with mosaic décor becomes architectural monument

Kohler chocolate shop: Hall with mosaic décor becomes architectural monument
The chocolate shop was on the ground floor of Count Orlov-Davydov’s commercial block of flats in the early 20th century. Its interior has smalt mosaics designed by French architect Edouard Niermans, who created interior decorations for the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret.

The shopping hall with mosaics in the Art Nouveau style in the former apartment building owned by Count Orlov-Davydov has been proclaimed an architectural monument. The shop is located on the ground floor of a building in Nikolskaya Street. The hall has unique floral mosaic décor dating back to 1907.

The mosaics were created by Edouard Niermans (1859–1928), one of the most fashionable architects and designers of those times. He designed interior decorations for theatres, casinos, cafes, restaurants and concert halls, including the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris. Niermans designed mosaics for Kohler’s chocolate shop located in a building in Nikolskaya Street. That was at the beginning of last century. They are all smalts made from irregularly shaped pieces of stained glass of various colours and shades. French master mosaicist Carlo Pizzagalli laid out the mosaics. His trademark has been found on one of the panels.

Irises, poppies, thistle: Century-old décor   

The former commercial block of flats of Count Orlov-Davydov was built in 1870. Conceived as a piece of Eclecticism by architect Robert Gedike (1829–1910), the building had only four floors at first. Over its nearly 150-year-long history, it has suffered repeated remakes that changed it beyond recognition. At present, this is a six-storey hotel with a restaurant occupying the entire ground floor.            

“The ensemble of multi-colour smalt mosaics looks exactly as it did more than a century ago. This is a unique artwork for Moscow, made in the Paris Art Nouveau style (Art Nouveau is a trend in architecture, decorative-and-applied arts and fine arts, which was immensely popular in the late 19th-early 20th centuries – mos.ru). Belt-shaped and triangular mosaic panels adorn the vaults of the shopping space, arched shop fronts, window apertures and doorways. Each panel has its own, inimitable pattern of floral motifs that are characteristic of Art Nouveau – irises, poppies, thistles, chrysanthemums, bellflowers and primroses,” Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov said.

Now that the unique interior became a regional heritage site, it is under reliable state protection. No changes in the authentic décor are allowed and any repairs must be coordinated with and controlled by the Department of Cultural Heritage.

The commercial block of flats in Nikolskaya Street once belonged to Count Alexei Orlov-Davydov (1871–1935), a master of ceremonies of the Imperial Court and later a deputy of the Fourth State Duma. The count lived in St. Petersburg and rented out his Moscow home. The ground floor was leased to merchants. One of the leaseholders was the well-known entrepreneur and publisher Ivan Sytin (1851–1934), who ran a book shop, and another one was Roman Kohler (1838–1907), who opened a chocolate shop in the same building. He founded the first Russian vodka factory and developed confectionary essences and had several ether plants.                     

700 new cultural heritage monuments

Work to preserve and restore architectural monuments in the capital continues on a permanent basis. The list of cultural heritage sites is regularly replenished. Over the past seven years alone, around 700 monuments have been given protected status: 370 of them are newly revealed objects of cultural heritage and 330 are cultural monuments of federal and regional significance.   

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Not long ago, the unique 18th-cenutry Church of Saint Trinity in the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas was put on the list of local cultural heritage sites. This rotunda church was built in 1762 by Prince Sergey Saltykov, a favourite of Empress Catherine II. It resembles an antique sanctuary.

In 2018, the residential building of the United Worker’s Construction Society (Obrabstroi) also became an architectural monument, as well as the commercial block of flats of merchant Alexei Durilin, an interesting piece of Russian Gothic (or pseudo-Gothic) combining European Gothic, Byzantine architecture and Moscow (Naryshkin) Baroque.