Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An ode to the process of baking

Design Clarity was asked to design the first inline tenancy for Buttercup Cake Shop in the new Westfield Stratford development, London.

The Stratford site will be the largest space for the brand to date and is to be housed in the ‘Great Eastern Market’ – a unique take on the traditional food market – with a mix of food specialties showcasing food from across the world.

From its first store on St. Alban’s Grove, tucked away behind Kensington High Street, Buttercup Cake Shop has grown into a recognisable brand for artisan cupcakes. Having previously designed the Buttercup mall kiosk at Bluewater Shopping Centre, Design Clarity was familiar with the Buttercup brand message.

Designed as an oversized Shaker kitchen, the space features embellished elements of the traditional cottage kitchen, drawing inspiration from a strong tradition of honest, utilitarian, English joinery. The elements are intended to reflect the brand’s ethos; using the finest and freshest ingredients to create hand-make cupcakes with no assembly lines and no extended shelf-life.

Product presentation is showcased in an enticing glazed platform at the front and centre of the store. After baking, the cupcakes are placed on the central ‘icing stage’ for decoration to capture the customers’ attention in the form of ‘food theatre’. The side walls are left for display of large cut out baking utensils in timber and pastels, various sized jars of sprinkles, tiered cake stands and suspended menu boards.

Solid timber fronted-drawers, hand-turned knobs and peg-racks in European Oak and painted finishes were at the heart of the Shaker ethos of beauty and utility, and are an integral part of this design. The colour scheme of the space is based on the corporate identity colours, which are used here for the purposes of accentuation. The kitchen display, simple materials, and functional yet beautifully crafted elements that make up the space are an ode to the process of baking.

In the landscape of the modern food market, the location aims to provide the ideal environment for browsing and treating yourself to these specialty cupcakes.

The language of the brand and the space has been applied to a portable cupcake cart, which spills out into the mall further enticing consumers to purchase a delightfully sweet dessert. The cart is seen by the client as a clever icon to further develop the brand by providing expansion opportunities in other locations.

New wine boutique concept for Mayfair London

Design Clarity was approached by Hedonism Wine to develop an exceptional design concept for their first UK ultimate ‘wine boutique’. Situated in a key location in Mayfair, this ambitious scheme aims to combine two existing two-level units to create a unique ‘wine retail experience’ in the West End of London.

Wine lovers, collectors and the merely inquisitive will be able to experience over 500sqm of wine, gathered from the some of the world’s greatest collections and vineyards, with expert help at hand to assist with decision making. Bottles range in price from £20 up to £50,000 for verticals, with an extensive vertical collection of Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

At the streetfront, full height frameless glass panels wrap this corner site. Pavement lights are replaced with structural pavement glazing blocks, allowing the ‘cellar vaults’ and the collections they will house to become part of the streetscape to the passer by.

A dramatic sweeping steel stair connects the two levels, with the distinctive, circular Hedonism logo imbedded in the cellar floor finish. To echo the existing perimeter vaulted spaces, shallow timber ceiling vaults are created throughout the main body of the cellar space, and wine collections are housed in traditional timber crates within a bespoke steel framework. The tasting zones also integrate the latest ‘enomatic’ wine tasting technology.

Simple, honest materials are used throughout; limestone, wide oak boards, exposed brickwork, powdercoated steel. Discreet champagne and whiskey rooms are proposed, each with its own individual character. The luxurious displays in these speciality rooms draw their inspiration from the very nature of the products.

An exceptional design for an extraordinary product range in an exclusive location.


Ten small steps towards being green (in ethos as well as brand)

Design Clarity lists some of the ways the new People’s Choice Credit Union has adopted environmentally sustainable design principles in their new store concept
Our design approach aimed to enhance the indoor environment quality (IEQ) of all new branches for members and staff
Our beGreen top ten for this project…
1. Good levels of natural daylight:
With daylight glare control for staff / member comfort and enhanced IEQ
2. Indoor planting: 
To improve IEQ, provide privacy screening, and connect with members
3. Transport & people-friendly branch nature:
Focus on accessibility, ease of access, diverse community usage, service-oriented layout, with unexpected surprise offerings. Borrow a shopping trolley, a beach umbrella, a green bag or even a bike in high-trafficked urban branches. Items are there free of charge to share and re-use.
4. Source local:
Australian made furniture sourced and manufactured locally to minimize our carbon impact in transportation
5. Waste management:
Designated recycling storage space in BOH area
6. Energy:
Lighting zoning over task areas with lower ambient levels, energy efficient LED fittings and lighting solutions, Section J BCA compliance
7. Emissions:
Low VOC emissions in specified materials - paints, flooring, tabletops
8. Site specific re-use:
For example, refinishing the existing concrete floor slab for the main branch flooring, retaining existing services and adapting for best efficiency
9. Recyclable content:
For finishes, materials and even products used within the branch
10. Renewable sources & responsible material specifications:
Tarkett IQ Natural vinyl flooring 75% natural and renewable material; 100% recyclable; VOC emissions 40 times lower than European standards; less use of water, energy and detergent; 30% reduction in cleaning and maintenance costs; best life cycle cost on the market
InterfaceFlor Carpet meeting room flooring InterfaceFLOR products attract full points under the Green Star Rating Tool for both Flooring Material Mat-2 criteria and Indoor Environmental Quality criteria for low VOC emissions.
Bolon green social strip flooring PVC is one of the most used plastics in the world and probably the most versatile of them all. The PVC-industry has managed to come through sometimes very hard criticism from both society and Environmental Organizations and is today a strong and healthy industry with an interesting future.

Tarkett Accent Excellence80 vinyl green tabletops 30% post-production recycled content. The TopClean X-treme Performance surface treatment reduces the use of water, detergent and energy, and ensures easy and low-cost cleaning and maintenance needing no wax or polish for life. Low VOC emissions, contributing to good indoor air quality. Up to 53% natural raw materials, such as salt and mineral fillers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A new kind of community – ACSL credit union launches

With two South Australian Credit Unions merging late in 2010, Design Clarity was asked to develop a visionary, forward-thinking design concept for the new credit union’s national store roll-out that represents their new brand identity. The design brief was to create a very member orientated, social, transparent, purposeful, as well as rebellious space within a total anti-bank atmosphere. “Run by members, not by numbers.”, “We are for people, not for profit.” are examples of the new brand statements that describe the new way of thinking.

The Design Clarity team has responded to the client’s brief by producing an exciting and innovative concept that focuses on the visual segmentation of the space into three main zones: a “personal”, a “communal” & an unconventional “social” strip as the core of the design. If you expect to find traditional service-desks when visiting one of the ACSL branches you will be disappointed. Members are invited to a space where they can take a break, interact, work, play and experience a personalised service in a friendly and relaxed environment.

The core green strip running throughout the retail space visualises the credit union’s personality – a social zone for the members. Borrow an umbrella or a shopping trolley for the day at the meet & greet unit; relax on the communal table by grabbing a drink, browsing the internet or reading the paper while your kids are painting electronic pictures on iPads. The design of this strip picks up the new brand colour green in an extended way – fabrics, carpets, faux turf, light fittings etc.; there is nothing that is not green. Even living money plants and greenery privacy screening.

A floor-to-ceiling plywood wall creates the “communal” strip, holding the more bank-orientated functions such as teller and foreign exchange booth. Booth seating for semi private meetings replace the so-traditional service desks used in the past. Members get the opportunity to leave personal things in the communal lockers while going shopping or just pick up some local produce or handcrafted goods from the community market, which is offered for use by local businesses and farmers.

The “personal zone” accommodates self-service units for internet, coin counting, coffee and the members’ feedback, which are recessed within a perforated wall covered with everyday people supergraphics. Feature details are the timber pencils, which pop out of the wall holding brochures, notepads and inviting members to send ACSL a message. White, red and charcoal colours with plywood 3D lettering define this zone.

The design respects the functionality required of a traditional banking space, but looks afresh at how we interact with information, technology and people in such an environment.

The new branch design is a space for the members to define their own banking style; a new kind of community, one of commerce, exchange & participation. 

The visuals shown here are from the early Design Clarity concept presentation - keep an eye out for final photos to follow shortly. Two pilot branches are now successfully trading and another two set to open in July 2011.

A slice of Havana Cuba hits Sydney

The original La Bodeguita Del Medio opened in Havana Cuba in 1950, and is famed for being the home of the mojito! The concept has since developed into a global icon with sites in Prague, Macedonia, Miami, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Beirut & Mexico City.

It is now time for Sydney to experience the delightfully bohemian, sophisticated old world service and cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Cuban themed La Bodeguita del Medio Restaurant.

Design Clarity and the La Bodeguita team started work two years ago to refine and evolve the designs for the Sydney restaurant. The final 650sqm site covers two levels of a character heritage building in York St opposite the Queen Victoria Building.

The upper level above street entry has high exposed timber panelled ceilings, suspended antique ceiling fans, raw brickwork archways, a personalised rum locker, spectacular rum barrel display, Spanish cedar humidor, main feature timber bar, lush palms and access to an external luxury cigar lounge balcony overlooking the rear laneway.

The basement level is a more intimate volume with a live music stage and second bar, along with the main working kitchen and storage zones. All the furniture is rich, dark-stained traditional timber with studded leather upholstery and has a solid, aged quality.

The lighting is moody and the walls throughout are adorned with hand scrawled thoughts of patrons, plus some fabulous hand painted murals. And an old Ernest Hemmingway overlooks the scene at the maitre D’ station beside his famous quote “My mojito in La Bodeguita”. Look hard and you might even find the DC logo alongside a red 1950s Cadillac sketch (It’s not often designers get to sign the interiors of their projects!)


Design Clarity likes McLaren Vale

The Design Clarity team got a bit snap happy in McLaren Vale for their June jolly. 

Favourite app: Hipstamatic, no doubt
Favourite winery: Alpha Box 'n Dice
Favourite lunch: Pennys hill
Favourite dinner: Fino (thank you Sharon for all the fab tips)
Favourite mascot: Alpaca
Favourite drop: so much choice....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A café formula with a quirk - hospitality design

Café Ritrovo – Italian for ‘meeting place’, has been a raving commercial success and met the client’s simple brief; to create an environment to relax, unwind and catch-up. Ritrovo’s owner (and Ex-Coffee Club franchisee) knew the basic operational model to make the business work, and wanted to create a ‘fresh & friendly’ look for his latest venture so appointed Design Clarity to develop the brand identity as well as the interiors. The café is 89sqm with an additional 26sqm of exterior seating extending into the mall, enticing passing shoppers.

The colour scheme is predominately black and white, warmed with timber and accents of orange in the furniture and 3D text positioned on the staggered timber wall cladding throughout the space.

The ornamental plywood fretwork screens the exterior seating clusters, framing the space. This decorative patterning is juxtaposed with the bold black and white diagonally striped floor, which provides a dramatic platform for the service counter displays.

There’s a library book joinery wall for customers to access while waiting for their coffee and a casual ambience with mixed seating types and pram-friendly circulation encouraging get-togethers, conversation and relaxation.

Feature pendant lighting suspended through the laser cut plywood panels break up the volume of space and create a more personal atmosphere. Chalkboard menus, retro-framed pictures, babushka dolls, potted plants all add that ‘home-away-from-home’ quality and a colourful quirk to the design – but it’s the great coffee and personal service that keeps them coming back.