Opinion by Richard Baird.
H+J, formerly Harbour & Jones, is a growing UK-based independent catering business established in 2004 that has provided food and catering solutions to venues such as The Cutty Sark, Moët & Chandon, Abbey Road, RIBA and Selfridges. Their services include working lunches and private dining rooms, large scale food courts, cafes and deli bars. London-based graphic design studio Spy worked with H+J to develop a brave new brand identity that would express their ambitions and help them stand out within a highly competitive industry. This included naming and logo design, still life photography, tone of voice, stationery, business cards, packaging and website design.
Spy’s work is characterised by two distinctive components, the bold utilitarian quality of logo and the way this is broken down and reassembled into patterns, and the playful nature and changing tone of still life images, created in collaboration with photographer Angela Moore and food stylist Peta O’Brien. Short but sharp copywriting and a broad but complimentary colour palette build out and layer the communicative foundations of type and image.
The visual language of image is clear, effectively touching upon the catering themes of street food, cheese boards, office lunches, desserts and early morning breakfasts, and comfortably moves between the sophisticated and the playful, comfort food and high quality specialties.
These are linked by playful and artful compositions and two colour settings, with the occasional worthwhile deviation. Highlights include the the motion of the fish and chips, and the a-symmetry, balance and tongue-in-cheek tone of of egg and spoon. There is a nice use of form, colour and texture, tension and motion, food and props that gives each a character of its own, and collectively a sense of variety and a clear communicative intention.
Where image is rich in detail, type is, in opposition, reductive. The use of contrasting forms, heavy fills and fine lines draw visual interest from simple character shapes whilst maintaining something of a modular and construction-like utility, positioning H+J as courageous and practical, and establishing something that really stands out within the industry that favours traditional flourishes and the conservative.
The choice of forms that make up logo is particularly smart when pulled apart and rearranged into patterns. Spy get plenty of visual equity from these, with patterns appearing distinctive in both their build and mix of the fine and heavy, but also the way these intersect at angles across packaging.
Colour works well to link type and image, and convey the different tones of events, these cover a cheerful yellow, a fiery red, relaxed pastel green and the slightly more sophisticated grape. This continues through to copywriting, developed by Jim K Davies of Total Content. Simple statements convey personality, sharing a commonality with logo in its brevity, and the playfulness and communicative intent of image. More work by Spy on BP&O.
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