Warning: The image above might elicit uncontrollable cravings.
While presenting a student housing project in her graduate architectural design class, Natasha Case’s professor made a comment that would inspire her to create Coolhaus— an ice cream brand that features deconstructed flavors inspired by construction and architecture. While in the middle of a recession where her friends were unemployed, Natasha explored the concept of “Farchitecture” (Food and Architecture) while trying to cheer up her friends with homemade desserts. What she discovered was a passion for design and dessert and a talent for creating a killer ice cream sandwich.
As a former Disney Imagineer, Natasha honed her creative skills to start selling her sweet designs at farmers markets along with her partner Freya Estreller. The partners initially worked out of a run-down little food truck and after their debut at Coachella in 2009, Coolhaus became a colorful and viral hit, with features in the New York Times prompting them to bring their trucks to The Big Apple. It’s been seven years since Coolhaus’ inception and you can now find the brand in 4,000 retailers, 11 nation-wide food trucks, two brick-and-mortar shops and in a handy recipe cookbook for the adventurous cooks and bakers.
Some of the eccentric flavors you might come across are Fried Chicken and Waffles, Foie Gras PB&J, and a personal favorite, Balsamic Fig and Mascarpone — I can proudly attest that this was the first entire pint of ice cream I ever ate by myself. But it’s not only the design inspiration and unique flavors that maintain Coolhaus’ cult status. The brand has also become culturally relevant through its social media presence and marketing methods.
Coolhaus’ Instagram is vibrant and curated to appeal to a wide audience ranging from influencers, to designers and even parents. What lies at the root of their universal reach is their down-to-earth and humorous marketing approach. The brand boasts architect-inspired flavor names like “Mintimalism” and “Frank Berry” which are served in ice cream cups that read “Let’s Spoon,” as if the unique flavor combos weren’t already enticing enough. By pushing boundaries with flavor profiles and embracing puns, Coolhaus shows a simple desire to have fun while providing consumers with a quirky and approachable experience.
With the Coolhaus brand’s quick rise in the dessert ranks, Natasha Case achieved her goal of making architecture more accessible while using food as the medium. The now frozen dessert empire is a testament to how an entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a direct-to-consumer marketing approach can lead to rapid brand growth and awareness.