Brand Spotlight: the Beautiful Designs of Compartes Chocolate
By: Margaret Andersen
Residents of Los Angeles love their food trends. Items like avocado toast and kale salads have practically become staples on every local menu (even McDonald’s has added kale to its breakfast bowls). But avocado or kale combined with chocolate? Those are just two of the many weird-but-in-a-good-way chocolate bar flavors created by Jonathan Grahm of the LA-based artisan chocolate brand Compartes. His culinary inventiveness and love of Southern California heritage has led him to produce over 200 unique flavors, and has made his brand a favorite among celebrities or anyone with an adventurous sweet tooth.
Compartes was founded by Myrna Comparte who began selling chocolate, toffee and marzipan confections out of her Brentwood home in 1950. Celebrities living in the neighborhood took notice, like Joan Crawford and Burt Lancaster, and Compartes quickly established itself a long list of Hollywood clientele. In 1998 Grahm’s family bought the business, where he spent his teen years learning the art of chocolate-making, creating his own inventive recipes that earned him the title, LA’s “chocolate prodigy.” By age 27, he was included on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for his role as CEO of Compartes, which he expanded from their original Brentwood location to 2 LA storefronts and 7 in Japan.
Grahm’s keen design sensibility and business savvy has taken the Compartes brand from kitschy candy store to high end culinary destination where art and desert intersect. He custom designs each truffle and chocolate bar box to reflect the theme or ingredients in the specific recipe, creating unique, Instagram-ready packaging stories that are as drool-worthy as the chocolates they contain. Grahm’s youthful eye and creative drive energized the decades old company, and he continues to redefine what it means to make artisan chocolate.
We spoke with Grahm about how he evolved his family business, and how living in Los Angeles has influenced the Compartes brand. Stay tuned for posts this week to learn more about this ultra sweet brand.
Margaret is a freelance graphic designer and writer based in Los Angeles. She received her MFA in Graphic Design from the California Institute of the Arts. She writes for AIGA’s blog Eye on Design, and is currently designing futuristic things for USC’s World Building Media Lab.