A touch of the West Country travels to London
Yeo Valley, Britain’s leading organic dairy brand, expanded on the success of both its dairy product range and its Blagdon-based farm, café and garden in deepest Somerset by opening its very first London outlet.
As part of Yeo Valley’s natural growth and evolution, an increased London presence became desirable and the decision was taken to create a branded shop and canteen offer in London, as well as creating additional company meeting and workspace. A two-storey site is located directly opposite Queensway Station, making it prime for people coming out of the station or the park and looking either for eat-in or takeaway food.
‘Phoenix Wharf had already been involved with the client prior to this project. We first worked with Yeo Valley to explore the feasibility of using part of the Blagdon HQ as a brand experiential space for group clients, conferences and events.’
Phoenix Wharf Associate Director Emma Gullick
The brief for the new space was to create an engaging, inviting showcase for Yeo Valley, incorporating a dine-in café, grab’n’go produce and a mini retail store, as well as a work and meeting space on the site’s upper storey. Phoenix Wharf were asked to maintain and express the brand’s nature-inspired ethos and friendly, fun and unpretentious feel, whilst also creating links to the existing HQ. This included integrating the work of artist-illustrator Natasha Clutterbuck, who has a long association with the brand and whose murals are part of the Blagdon Canteen, as well as creating artwork for special editions of the product range.
The new café-store has two street-facing, retail-style, full-height boutique windows to either side of the main double-door entrance, with backlit storefront branding above for The Yeo Valley Café, using the brand’s existing heart-shaped identity.
The interior features a dual ‘warm and cool’ concept, with a white and bright ‘cool’ area to the right for grab’n’go produce and the mini retail area, underlining the freshness of the dairy produce range, and a warmer ‘natural’ sit-down area to the left, underlining the brand’s countryside origins and authenticity.
A central off-white flooring corridor is for circulation and unites the spaces, whilst an eye-catching, huge-scale ceiling feature down the centre of the space takes the form of a stained-glass-style light-box installation, showing an abstracted map of the Yeo Valley farm HQ in Blagdon.
‘We wanted to avoid the cliché of a whited-out or black-sprayed ceiling. The angled outer edges were designed to echo the inside of a farm building roof, whilst the large-scale 5m x 2m map of Blagdon tells the story of the company, at the same time as adding a bit of extra theatre to the space.’
Phoenix Wharf Associate Director Emma Gullick
The left-hand side of the ground floor space features a natural colourway with a slightly 70s retro feel. Brand stories also feature in this area, including a picture wall along the first third of the space, featuring a variety of images from the Yeo Valley HQ. The central section of the wall, alongside the booth seating, features exposed brickwork, which is used again to the left side of the rear wall as both a rustic reference and an allusion to the Blagdon company HQ building.
A lighting feature made up of a clutch of 19 pendant lamps hang over the booth seating and catches guests’ eyes as they enter. The final third of the left-side wall houses a cottage-garden-inspired mural by artist Natasha Clutterbuck.
The rear wall features a large-scale retro-style TV against the exposed brickwork, telling the ‘Yeo TV’ brand story visually (without sound) and offering a distraction for anyone queueing to pay at the back-right pay counter.
The right-hand, ‘cool’ side of the space features a product chiller wall and then an angled counter, both featuring blue-tinged LED underlighting. As customers arrive at the pay-counter, a large, glossy, petrol-blue dresser, bespoke-designed by Phoenix Wharf, catches the eye against the backwall. The dresser features a granite worktop that matches the table tops, plus an inset sink, and is used both for drink and glasses storage and for Yeo Valley merchandise display - branded cups and aprons, for example. At the top, a cut-out section features a winking golden cow in glittery acrylic; a reminder of the brand’s dairy farm origins and playful nature.
To the rear left are customer toilets, a fun and stand-out feature, designed as ‘Blagdon Station’ underground toilets as a link between the London and Somerset sites, with curved tube-tunnel corners and ‘pomegranate’ wall tiles, sourced from H.E. Smith, the original London Underground manufacturer. Further details include tube-type platform signage; a ‘priority seat’ sign above the toilet; an ‘All Change Here’ baby change unit; a ‘Loo Roll’ tube-style roundel; a platform-style floor detail saying ‘Mind the Gap’ and a ‘Way Out’ sign.
The first-floor general workspace includes a meeting room, sit-down workstations and a higher, bar seating work area for laptop work. The upstairs toilets also embody the brand’s sense of fun, with black glossy tiles, black sanitaryware and a red ceiling, accompanied by wallpaper made up of black and white shots of animal-faced people pursuing leisure activities.
‘The experience of working with Phoenix Wharf was very uplifting. They really helped bring our ideas to life and their visual concepts transferred almost exactly to the finished space, which we are very happy with.’
Adrian Fenton, Managing Director, Yeo Valley Properties
Photography credit: Franklin & Franklin