If you’ve got a sweet tooth, and find yourself in New York City, you must visit Magnolia Bakery! Whenever I travel to NY on business, my sister-in-law always makes time to meet me in the city with my niece and nephew in tow. A cupcake recon mission is always on our to-do list. Our first visit to Magnolia was about three years ago, and you can imagine how excited I was to see Rejuvenation lights shining down on all those delicious goodies! So when word came down that the folks at Magnolia were opening a new location and had ordered more of our lights, I decided it was time to reach out to their team for a little Q&A. I’m not-so-secretly hoping they’ll send some of those tasty treats my way to tide me over until my next trip east.
Rejuvenation: You make hand crafted classic American desserts; we make handcrafted classic American Lighting. We know why handcrafted is important to us, why is it important at Magnolia?
Tyra Abrams, Magnolia’s Owner and Chief Creative Officer: Things that are handcrafted tend to be made by people who care to take the time to do something well. You have to love what you do and want to share that with others. There tends to be a philosophy of integrity that goes hand-in-hand with handcrafted. We take enormous care and pride in making and serving our baked goods, and I know what care your company takes in producing your lighting. Even the way you wrap your fixtures for shipping shows how well you want to protect what you’ve made so it arrives safely.
Rejuvenation: Your website says “With its vintage American desserts and decor, customers often remark that walking into the Bakery is like taking a step back in time”- can you tell us more about your vintage recipes and their origins?
Abrams: Magnolia’s recipes, for the most part, have been developed over time, passed down from great-grandmothers to grandmothers to mothers to daughters. At the end of the day, all our recipes, no matter where they came from originally, get tested in our kitchen and perfected, then sampled, by the Magnolia team. We have to love it if we’re going to put it in our bakery.
Rejuvenation: How about the locations you select for your shops? How do you achieve that feeling of “taking a step back in time?” Is the history of the building or neighborhood important when selecting a new location?
Abrams: When possible, we choose locations that either have a certain vintage charm or are housed in iconic buildings, like Grand Central Station, or iconic areas, like Rockefeller Center. More importantly, I have come to realize that no matter where the bakery is located, Magnolia offers its customers a harkening-back experience — an oasis of sorts from the busy, modern world.
Rejuvenation: What is the inspiration for the interiors? Do all locations have the same aesthetic?
Abrams: The bakeries all have the same design aesthetic, yet each is unique and personalized based on its architecture and location. One of my favorite projects is to restore old houses, particularly farmhouses. A few years ago I renovated an 1860 farmhouse in Sullivan County, NY. In the kitchen, I chose a beautiful old enamel double sink with a drain board and built vintage-looking cabinetry with divided glass panes. We used glass from old barn windows so it had that slightly melted look. That kitchen has been my inspiration for the Magnolia stores along with an incredibly beautiful handmade green tile I came across, which is the most important design element of all our bakeries.
Rejuvenation: And of course, how does our lighting help achieve the aesthetic your brand is known for?
Abrams: Lighting is very important to me. It sets the mood in terms of the fixture itself, as well as the quality of light provided. I put everything on dimmers so the light can be controlled. Your lighting is amazing and tells a story about each era you focus on, whether mid-century modern, deco or arts and crafts. I love schoolhouse lights and they fit the brand perfectly. So many schoolhouse lights these days look the same and have little character. Your lighting is well researched and historically correct, and you offer so many unique possibilities and metal finishes. I love to have polished nickel, for example, and you have that option. We chose a schoolhouse light with a lovely shape and a green stripe that gives it that special something. We get compliments on them all the time.