Where are we, and why does it matter?

Like many start-ups, Eatcake Design initially worked in the back bedroom of a flat with little more resources than a coffee machine and determination to succeed.

Our first real office was a modest space on Chandos Road, Redland. It wasn’t much to boast about in itself, but it’s proximity to a potential collaborator led to our first ‘proper’ client relationship. That client kicked us up a level, both in terms of satisfying and mutually fruitful work and our own financial viability. They were impressed by our portfolio and approach, but also liked the fact we could easily wander round and meet face-to-face. 

That geographic serendipity has always informed our choices when looking for places to work. On a personal level we wanted to work within walking or cycling distance of where we lived. We also wanted to be grounded in Bristol, and part of the Bristol community. It was always obvious to us that we had to work in central Bristol rather than in a distant business park in the suburbs.

Our next move was to a nice big attic space above a travel agency on Park Street. Everyone in Bristol knows the street, which proved to be a great benefit in drawing new clients. We began many of the business relationships that we still have today. Again, most of the people we worked with during this time were based in and around central Bristol in easy reach of our office. We were able to meet with clients regularly and freely. Not just to discuss ongoing projects, but to have lunch or a quick coffee. Many of those clients became friends and we’re still collaborating with then now. 

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When we were in a position to buy our own workspace, we chose a location that’s the essence of central Bristol. Our office on Queen Street is a former soap warehouse that backs onto the floating harbour. It was fairly quiet when we moved in despite it’s central location, but now we’re surrounded on all sides by new development. The neighbouring building generated the power for Bristol’s tram system, but it’s now being redeveloped to attract creative businesses. It looks likely that our neighbourhood will become known as a creative district, which is great for us and encouraging for our clients. 

We still work with people nearby. Some are small organisations starting up or developing, others are national and international companies headquartered nearby. Of course, we’re always willing to travel in order to meet the right client, but looking back at our track record that hasn’t been a pattern that’s common for us. Clearly friendly and productive personal relationships are are a natural fit. We’re always looking for the next one.

Talking shop

The past few years have been difficult times for charities in the UK, particularly those that relied on Government grants to provide essential services. 

Our client Brandon Trust are a leading voice calling for people with learning disabilities to be able to live the lives they choose. Where possible, Brandon Trust clients live independently in their own accommodation rather than living in institutions. Although Government policy has become more aligned with what Brandon Trust's approach, funding has become increasingly tight in recent years. Brandon Trust has been proactive in seeking other ways to fund their work.

Charities are well known for their place in retail. The best charity shops are adored by curious and adventurous bargain hunters and add vitality to local shopping areas. Cotham Hill is a busy shopping area in Bristol. Its charity shops are an integral part of the areas vibrancy. When a prime shop became available on the street, Brandon Trust jumped at the chance enter the retail market.

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Before

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Eatcake Design were initially asked to look at how Brandon Trust's brand identity could be applied to the facade. Our role soon developed into leading the vision for the interior design of the shop itself. 

The layout of the shop was a gift. Light and airy, the shop has plenty of floor space at street leveland storage and sorting space downstairs. The longest wall had been stripped to reveal generations of plaster, wallpaper and paint in peeling layers. We decided that had to stay! Taking the beautifully distressed wall as the starting point, we began to build a utilitarian interior using scaffold poles for the racks, wood for the floor and clean white lines everywhere else. The branding was applied with a light touch using stencils on the windows, bold colour stripes for the changing room curtain, a large lightbox 'B' behind the counter and branded swing tickets. The end result is as much vintage boutique as charity shop.

Lou, the charismatic shop manager, dressed the displays with aplomb. On opening day the shop was declared a triumph! This is a view that has been echoed by a growing band of loyal treasure hunters over the subsequent weeks. The success of the shop has hastened the arrival of shop number two, in the heart of Bristol's charity shop Nirvana, Gloucester Road. Watch this space...

Fledgling brand

We were recently asked to design a corporate identity for a new ethical cosmetics company Three Birds. The founders chose the name because they all spent time in prison before launching their entrepreneurial careers.

Eatcake quickly had a good idea what would work for the company visually. Our primary aim was to develop an original look that distinguished them from more mainstream competitors.

Three routes were proposed, all of which we would have been delighted to take further.

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The first proposal uses the language of tattoos; in particularly the standard ‘swallow’ design which represents freedom and is often chosen by people in prison.

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There is a clear temptation to use birds with a company name like this. Our second proposal aims to subvert the obvious by suggesting birds although they are absent. The eye is drawn to the open cage door, and we can imagine our own story about the freed birds.

The chosen identity was the most visually direct. The client liked the rendering and the ‘tropical plumage’ colours. The simple bird forms will be striking on the packaging, and easily applied to soap bars using a custom stamp.

Flying the nest

One of the most exciting parts of the design process comes when a cherished new brand is born and presented to the public. Three things can ensure a successful delivery.

Firstly, over the course of developing the brand you will have found a 'godparent' within the client organisation who loves the new creation as much as you do. They will keep an eye on its application when you aren't there to supervise.

Secondly, your clearly communicated Style File will ensure your baby is brought up properly. A few simple rules will make sure the brand is presented strongly and consistently as intended.

Finally, a good working partnership with your client means you will continue to contribute in making key decisions about the brand's major life choices as the years go by.

Some of the proudest moments for a designer come when you see the brand you carefully reared from conception to maturity independently thriving.

Red Maids' Sports Kit
RedMaids' Junior sign
Redmaids' Twitter feed



It's a winner!

Brandon Trust's annual report for 2013 has scooped first prize in the Third Sector Excellence Awards 2014 in the annual report category.

Designed, developed and produced by Eatcake in partnership with writer Henry Palmer, illustrator Harry Venning and the Brandon Trust Communications Team, the report was described as: "a genuinely different idea, relevant to the audience and executed with love and care."

http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/third-sector-awards-2014-annual-report-winner-brandon-trust/article/1312603