Creative direction, branding and design services for Tom Aikens Restaurant
Chef Tom Aikens relaunched his award-winning Chelsea restaurant in January 2012. As part of the relaunch I was asked to create a new logo and visual identity. After working with Tom and the marketing director to refine three concepts, I recommended some old friends from One Big Company to join the team, so that we could deliver to an incredibly tight deadline.
Creative for rebrand
My approach is to develop stories through which we can explore creative ideas that then manifest themselves as visual and audio experiences. Our two preferred creative routes were “Chelsea Green Meets French New Wave Cinema” and “Parks, Trees and the Seasons”.
The logo was inspired by the typographical design used in a piece about the legendary French film director Jean-Luc Godard. This typography proved the perfect starting point for visualisation of Tom’s concept for the restaurant, which is less formal than his previous Michelin-starred restaurant.
After agreeing the logo design, complementing typefaces, and menu formats, we presented a mountain of mood boards of varying illustrative styles from which we could choose how to communicate the changing seasons. After lengthy debate, we settled on the super-talented Anje Jager, who was briefed by marketing director, Irene Lentsch, to create four illustrations centred on the cherry blossom tree in Chelsea Green.
Through paper stock, printing techniques and illustrated menus presented in die-cut bespoke sliding envelopes, everything comes together to deliver Tom’s innovative vision.
Website design and development
As soon as I received the photographs from Irene Lentsch at Tom Aikens, it was obvious that they had to play a key role in the interface design; photographer David Griffen had done a fantastic job shooting the restaurant, dishes and team. The site content sits above a gallery of images, allowing users to switch between two interface view states.
To be good citizens and respect mobile users, we also designed a mobile-specific interface that would not eat mobile users’ expensive bandwidth. Instead of presenting every page to mobile users, we decided to create a single page that would focus on the key actions required by a mobile user and included a few interactions to navigate the page.
The website content is managed through our MassDigital CMS, a lightweight, fast and scalable content management system built using open source technologies.
All code is optimised and we followed best practices stated in Google’s page speed guidelines.
Hosted webfonts ensure brand consistency.
Email marketing campaigns
The email campaign template looks great on desktop and mobile email clients. We decided it was important to get this looking great on mobile without the user having to pinch and zoom to read the text. The resulting design is simple, clean, well branded and makes good use of the fantastic photographs by David Griffen.
People love parks. They are places to think, relax, reflect and imagine; they are beautiful spaces that change with every season. Parks are places where people still smile and say hello, informal retreats for all ages. Through the right lens, everything within them, even where seemingly random by nature, looks stunningly beautiful.
We can develop a logo based on the seasonal changes a tree undergoes.
We can create a photographic study as each season changes, then update the menus, envelopes and other interior elements to reflect those changes.
We can also record the sounds of the changing seasons and play them through speakers in the toilets or other areas of the restaurant. We could even include imagined overheard stories in the distance.
We can do cheeky things like print a full-size graphic of a tree for the men’s toilets, and use a bush for the ladies, suggesting that men go behind trees and ladies behind a bush.
Typographic styling taken from French new wave cinema, combined with reportage style photographic storytelling, will bring to life the imaginative and fantastic stories centred on Chelsea Green.
We can start with the logo and typography for the menus etc.… Beyond this – and depending on how well things are received – we could go as far as developing the story behind the reportage photography into a five-minute short film that can tour the short film festivals. This would generate press that target your demographics, not just in the UK, but also throughout the world’s major cities where the festivals are hosted and visitors to London live.
The new restaurant concept is a less formal approach than the previous incarnation, embodied in part by steps such as removing the tablecloths, the silver cutlery, and making the whole restaurant more welcoming.
The room is organic and free-looking, using all natural materials such as different woods, polished concrete, wooden wall panels, and a wide-planked wooden floor.
The chairs are clear varnished wood with no paint as they chip, a simple wooden chair that will get better with age, but it has to be a great designed chair with a nice seated pad and round shapes that are more welcoming than the right angles we have at the minute.