Smith&+Village Rebrands Harvey Nichols With An Instagrammable Food Collection
by Casha Doemland on 01/28/2019 | 3 Minute Read
While London-based luxury department store Harvey Nichols first opened their doors in 1831, it wasn't until the early 90s that they introduced food markets and cafes to each of their seven locations. As such, special packaging for perishables was produced and resembled a monochromatic dream with matte silver tins and witty imagery that became a designer's vision of food heaven.
Unfortunately, trends shift and the youthful and exciting magic of the packaging faded as it went unaltered for twenty-three years. To restore Harvey Nichols' food packaging and give it another iconic design, they enlisted creative branding studio Smith&+Village.
Together, they produced a supremely Instagrammable collection for their biscuits and coffee that utilizes the look and feel of high-end cosmetics. To discover how, we spoke with Richard Village, director and owner of Smith&+Village.
Walk us through the design process. How did you go from start to finish on this project?
Both the Food and Marketing teams at Harvey Nichols gave us full briefings about their aspirations for the brand and product ranges. We really wanted to understand Harvey Nichols’s positioning in relation to their competitors in London (Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason), and how food would sit within that positioning to make it stand out. Our designs also had to be a reflection of the store itself, fearlessly stylish, playful in attitude, daring in delivery and devoted to its customers. With this in mind, we developed the concept of a chic collection of gifts you can eat, which firmly positioned the food range and its aesthetic in the world of fashion rather than food.
After Harvey Nichols agreed to this concept, it was time to bring it to life using the three key design elements of the range, iconic materials and a beautiful pattern based on the HN monogram and language. We worked closely with Harvey Nichols to achieve the right packaging formats and materials, creating bespoke tins for tea, biscuits and coffee.
Why did you opt to use the language of fashion?
Of all the high-end, destination London department stores, Harvey Nichols is and has always been the most directional and fashion-focused. It makes no concessions at all to tradition, which meant that our design solution had to use high style creativity with the visual language of fashion. As we have said, we established that rather than be strictly foodie, the food range was about ultra-chic gifts. We needed our designs to speak this language very strongly.
Each product has its own identity. Do you think the actual product impacts the design or did you want something that would flow together as a collection?
Right from the start, we loved the idea of a fashion collection whose constituent parts might be quite different but are all united by a series of visual ideas or threads – this was the crucial part of the idea, and it informed our visual direction.
We also wanted to steer deliberately clear of using any ‘expected’ product sector visual language in the packs. Harvey Nichols is unique and can afford to break the rules, hence biscuit tins inspired by cosmetic packaging and tea tins that look like jewelry boxes.
As none of the products are throw-away, what material is used throughout the packaging and was that always the goal when designing it?
We made deliberate choices to try and encourage customers to be more mindful about using and reusing packaging by making it ultra desirable and reusable. The biscuit and tea tins have proper, airtight sealing lids so they can be refilled or used for storing other kitchen items.
Another cute idea was making clear baubles filled with Christmas chocolate truffles, sugared almonds and foiled chocolate coins. Once you've eaten the chocolates, you can keep the bauble and refill it next year or hang them on your tree.
Where we can't encourage reuse, we always try to keep waste to a minimum and print on card or recycled stock. Steps like this are changing in the world of packaging. We try to encourage our clients to make conscious choices.