Caz Hildebrand is one of the founding partners of Here Design, an award-winning, small team of multi-disciplinary designers based in East London. The team’s background and experience includes design and strategic thinking for branding, packaging, print, publishing, point-of-sale, products and websites for some of Britain’s most interesting food and drink brands, such as Bocca di Lupo, Gelupo, Fortnum and Mason, Gail’s Bakery, Hendrick’s Gin and The Balvenie. The Foodie Bugle caught up with Caz for a short interview about her work and love of food and drink.
The Foodie Bugle: Caz, where do you think that your design talent comes from? When you were at school did you always do well at Art?
Caz: I was always interested in art and I went to Art College. I studied first at Brighton and then on to the Royal College of Art.
TFB: When you first set up Here Design with Kate Marlow and Mark Paton in 2005, how did you manage to get your client list established? Did brands and businesses already know you well from your previous work or did you have to start at the bottom and prove your way up?
Caz: It was a bit of both really, I was fortunate to retain a few publishing clients from my previous job, but our other clients came slowly as we gradually built up our portfolio.
TFB: How many designers work within the team now and how do you allocate the work between you?
Caz: We have around ten designers in the studio most of the time. We try and ensure that each designer works on of every type of project so they have a rounded experience of designing for print, books, branding, packaging and identity work.
TFB: When you are approached by food and drink company owners or directors and you are sitting round the table listening to their requirements and brief, how do you go from a white, blank page to the initial drawings? How do ideas and talks become reality: are there many different stages?
Caz: Talking to our clients is the starting point and learning as much as we can about their business is vital for us to come up with an informed solution. We research around the subject and ask lots of questions. We usually have lots of ideas and we try to limit them to two or three that we all feel are really workable and then we begin to flesh them out and test them on various applications. Once we are comfortable with these approaches we share them with our clients and get a steer from them as to what feels right. With their input, we then begin to craft our designs and bring them to life in a variety of applications to demonstrate how they might eventually appear.
TFB: How did the working relationship between you and Jacob Kenedy begin? What was it like creating the different branding-packaging-book-website design-shop fittings for Bocca di Lupo and Gelupo?
Caz: Jacob originally invited us to come up with some ideas for his restaurant, Bocca di Lupo. We started looking at the wordmarque and then developed various applications alongside ideas including the mirrors for the interiors, signage and printed collateral. We established a great working relationship with Jacob and so it seemed natural for us to consider how the Gelupo brand could evolve as a sibling brand. The cookbook followed and we continue to work with Jacob to build his brands.
TFB: When you are working with artisanal, unique brands, such as Lina Stores, Nopi, Gail’s Bakery and Dock Kitchen, how do you decide what works best to represent the owners’ personality and personal ethos?
Caz: Our role as designers is really to articulate a brand using design tools to bring a brand to life and truly represent the ethos of those behind it. We are simply representing what we perceive.
TFB: In your website you mention that “we have been crafting quietly powerful design for a client list of individuals, brands, charities and institutions that we believe in wholeheartedly”. If you did not believe in the product does that mean you would rather turn down the money in order not to compromise your standards?
Caz: Yes. We generally turn down work that we feel we can’t add value to in terms of design. It is difficult to make a credible solution when we feel that we would be dissembling. We can’t sell something to others that we wouldn’t want to buy ourselves.
TFB: To be able to create such beautiful drawings, logos and designs you must obviously love food and travel and have a good knowledge of it. Do you grow your own food and cook a great deal? Where do you like to go out to eat, drink, and shop for food where you live and where you work?
Caz: We live to eat and are passionate about good food and drink and great places. I think Here Design would be a tough place to work if you didn’t feel the same. We cook a lot and make lunch in the studio for everyone. Most of us live in East London and there are an ever increasing number of great coffee places, local markets and small artisan shops to choose from.
TFB: What advice would you give small, artisanal food and drink business owners who have only a small budget for creating a logo, stationery, packaging and branding but would like to communicate a professional, attractive and effective message to their potential customers across all media?
Caz: If you know what you are about then it makes the job of branding much easier. Everything you do communicates messages about your brand and is an opportunity to spread the word. Branding is a way to do that most effectively. It doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective, it needs to be an accurate reflection of who you are and what you do.
TFB: As the recession deepens, how do you think consumers’ perceptions of brand design changes: do you think we are instinctively more drawn to homely, simple, clutter free imagery or do you think there is increasing escapism to a brighter, sparklier narrative?
Caz: I think it’s hard to give a definitive response to this. Some brands evoke a simpler life and they are comforting and reassuring when times are difficult, but there is still room for all sorts of difference. There are as many design approaches as there are brands out there. Variety is the spice of life and long may it continue.
Here Design: www.heredesign.co.uk