Innovation, Aesthetics, Engagement: Design Take-Aways from Taste of London
As anyone who has ever visited or lived in London well knows, it's a city unique in its quirks and diversity, and a true melting pot of creativity.
Taste of London brings a tasty spoonful of it to Regent's Park, a surprise in itself, to this non-Londoner, as a vast leafy haven nestled in among the offices, teeming with nature, water and wildfowl happily residing in the heart of a heaving city.
Described as the World's Greatest Restaurant Festival, Taste of London celebrates the best of the city's culinary culture, with taster experiences, samples and cookery demonstrations from world-class chefs, sought-after restaurants, and gourmet and grab-and-go food producers. It's a fantastic social gathering in the fresh air, surrounded by inspiration and life.
Now, the reason we love the crossover of the food and design industries is that, in our experience, it brings out the best in both sectors. Equally creative, the innovation and energy behind food and drink, matched with the strong stories and originality expressed through good design, make for a spontaneity and buzz that is always uplifting. We think of it as the cheeky kid brother of the design world, a natty dresser that's always taking risks, always in the know, always keeping you on your toes.
In the case of beautifully executed food festivals like Taste of London, there is something fresh for everyone, whether simply seeking the latest inspiration, finding tasty new producers or learning cookery techniques from the greats. But from a design perspective, it's the experiences that we enjoy, because it's experiences that make memories and ensure a message lasts.
Here are our top three take-aways from Taste of London 2016:
1. Product Innovation
Clever people were everywhere with their new product ideas, recipe developments, exciting ventures and diversification strategies. We loved the cheerful Hippeas Chickpea Puffs and their simple solution for a healthy, flavourful snack. We saluted the stylish dessert company Pots & Co tapping into travel with a specific offering for airlines (an area sorely needing consideration, may we say). And we were won over by The Coconut Collaborative's quest for a happy union of 'life-giving nutrients and glorious flavours'.
New ideas are so energising, aren't they?
2. Storyful Aesthetics
There were many eye-catching examples of stands filled with story and brand values, creating an immersive experience for visitors to immediately capture the essence of the brand in question. Our favourite was Heath & Heather's Infusion Bar, which not only showcased their teas and herbal infusions, but surrounded us with the growing and creative process behind the recipes and benefits of the brews. It was a leafy oasis of natural materials and aromatic planting with engaging little touchpoints and details that thoroughly charmed us.
3. Audience Engagement
The stands where long conversations took place went far beyond sampling, extending their impact with an element of audience interaction or participation or space to hang out.
- The Ketel One Kitchen had upbeat cocktail workshops from a central table laden with fresh juices, fruit, herbs, spices to devise creative twists on the Bloody Mary (Caroline won, with her Mucky Mary, and we will never be allowed to forget it).
- Doom Bar by Sharp's Brewery brought their naughty Beer Confessional, complete with 'priest', to extract your booziest stories in return for a cheeky beer.
- Whole Foods Market integrated their lively Market Kitchen cookery demo theatre, spreading their core message with raw ingredients-led live demonstrations and masterclasses.
- Cocktail bar Dandelyan had an elegant, summery sipping space complete with deckchairs and floor cushions, perfect for people-watching.
Even something as simple and effective as the basil, tomato and chive seeds given away by Seeds of Change, is a sure way to bring the memory of their brand and values to life long after the show.
Focusing on one of these three elements well can certainly make a mark at a show, but together, they form a brand’s DNA, and consequently create a consistently killer combination that imprints a brand experience on an audience’s memories for days, weeks, years to come. Oh, we had a great day. Roll on next year!