Although technology-driven and educational, “Nest” bursts with fun, humor and heart — and conjures lots of fond food memories — so its message is never out of the reach of even the youngest visitor.
On 15 June 2016, the CHF50 million “discovery center” Nest opened its doors to the public in the stunningly renovated factory space in Vevey where Henry Nestlé invented in 1867 and went on to manufacture his groundbreaking, lifesaving powdered baby formula (farine lactée).
Elements of the original factory, including metal girders, patched-up brick walls, and a looming facade that was once the external wall of the original workplace have been cleverly enfolded within a spacious, glass fronted structure.
A playful factory design concept
The factory design concept on the ground floor cleverly incorporates trendy, vintage elements — in Café Henri you’ll find exposed light bulbs, wood-and-metal tables and chairs (including kids’ highchairs), a cantine-style food bar, and reproduction Nestlé crates holding children’s games and books. A play area features a giant chalkboard table and other amusements to keep youngsters happily occupied while parents eat and talk nearby.
Littered throughout the foyer are vintage posters, a “kit kat” park bench, a motorized Nestlé ice cream cart from Asia, and other playful reminders of the dominant role that the food giant has played in feeding the world for more than a century.
Learning while having fun
Upon its opening last summer the Center’s Director Catherine Saurais said Nest: “offers a special way to revisit the meanderings of (Nestlé’s) own history, to examine the questions surrounding food production in the world today, and to explore a passionate vision of nutrition in an engaging manner.”
A friendly-voiced audio guide is included in the entry fee and the first part of the Nest experience gets underway in the Foundations section on the main floor, where visitors are ushered into a 20-minute audio-visual presentation across four rooms (the first room has a playful Doctor Who look about it).
Here vintage photographs, films, imaginative stage sets and a vibrant soundtrack whisk you back to the dawn of the modern age, when large agrarian populations migrated to the cities in search of work and were in desperate need of healthy and affordable foodstuffs.
A blast of Nestlé’s past
We learn about German pharmacist Henri Nestlé’s arrival in Vevey and trace his story from the creation of farine lactée to the 1905 merger of his future company Nestlé with the Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk Company that originated in US in 1866 but moved to Switzerland for its abundant supply of fresh, high quality cow’s milk, revolutionizing the Swiss dairy industry in the process.
If this all sounds a bit, well, too educational, don’t worry, the entertaining presentations whiz by in seemingly half the time.
Nestlé over the decades
Moving upstairs, the Zeitgeist section draws on 150 years of Nestlé’s historical archives to explore the scientific innovations, successful strategies (including mergers and acquisitions) and well known brands that made Nestlé a household name around the globe.
The Collections room displays wonderful memorabilia including original artwork, product samples, and iconic packaging design as well as a huge (by comparison) Nespresso machine prototype from 1975, a pre-1988 kit kat chocolate mold, notes on milk chocolate production from 1875, and the ominously sounding Egron, a “vacuum machine” to create powdered milk that looks like a moonshine still.
Consider food-related issues
From the past we move into the present and future in the Forum room, where under the motto “What moves you, moves us too”, visitors participate in interactive explorations that provoke thought and discussion on the controversial topics facing us today, including child labor and sustainable development. You’re never too young to start learning about what’s healthy for people, animals and nature.
Moving into a futuristic area entitled Visions that’s enclosed beneath soaring, tent-like canopies, we gain an insight into the complex relationships between nutrition, health and wellness.
We’re also introduced to Nestlé’s research and development work, carrying on its tradition of scientific innovation — all of which is done with colorful, easy to understand, interactive displays.
All in all, Nest is a shining example of how to make learning fun for visitors of all ages. While obviously being a wonderful promotional tool for Nestlé it’s undoubtedly an enchanting journey where you cannot help but be caught up in the spirit of innovation that has driven the company since its inception and along the way changed the way we eat and drink, and think and feel about food.
Together with Nest, the newly renovated Alimentarium on the lakefront and the recently opened Chaplin’s World in Corsier-sur-Vevey, make Vevey the place to go for families looking for a fun and informative day out. ♥
Tip: don’t forget to visit the photo booth at the far end of Nest’s foyer, where you can superimpose your face onto a vintage Nestlé poster and have it emailed to you as a special souvenir of your visit (and if you choose, have it featured on the huge electronic board overhead.)
Nest — homepage
Chaussée de la Guinguette 10
1800 Vevey – 2 mins. walk from Vevey train station – tel: +41(0) 21 924 40 40
Open 7/7 excl. 25 Dec./01 Jan. (reduced entry fee Mondays)
Café Henri – incl. weekend brunch
Useful information: (prices, groups, opening hours, location, services). Audio guide: English, French, or German included with entry fee; child-friendly version available).