Off the beaten track
Companies sometimes venture into sectors far removed from their original activities, like Toyota, with its hoverboard prototypes and investments in artifcial intelligence, and Peugeot, with electric foot scooters. These initiatives were geared to the demands of urban mobility and the environment. While promoting diversifcation, some of these offshoots have become long-term projects contributing to brand recognition. The Weiss chocolate factory in Saint-Étienne has made design part of its company strategy. A founding partner of the Cité du Design (opened in 2009), the frm then invested in the construction of Les Ateliers, a glass and steel building set in the middle of the chocolate factory, open since October. Willy Wonka is nowhere in sight, but an idealized world is showcased, complete with temporary contemporary art and architecture exhibitions (the theme of the frst one, through late February, is “The Gesture”), a shop and refreshments area.