A taste of the twenties

Designers Amish Shah and Claire Colnot, founders of studio Work in Process, have created an art deco inspired visual identity for French patisserie and confectionery brand Maison Constanti.

Designers Amish Shah and Claire Colnot, founders of studio Work in Process, have created an art deco-inspired visual identity for French patisserie and confectionery brand Maison Constanti.

Shah and Colnot were asked to create a scheme that would reflect Maison Constanti’s heritage – it was founded in 1923 – and the quality of its products. In two months, the pair designed a new website, packaging, logo, signage, staff aprons and catalogues.

The identity system combines pastel shades with dark brown, 1920s-style patterns, Zuzana Licko’s serif typeface, Mrs Eaves, and a copper logo. “We thought the establishment date of the company was a strength that needed to be conveyed,” says Colnot.

“We looked at art deco inspirations and added some other influences to it: Jan Tschichold and his book designs, as well as the way he used symmetric classical typography, Firmin and Pierre Didot’s print works and typefaces, Robert Massin’s NRF logo, Eric Gill’s An Essay on Typography, Jost Hochuli’s letters, and the work of Parisian master calligrapher Jean Larcher.”

“The Constantis are mainly classic but they like a touch of modernity – they didn’t want a very pure and clean design, feeling this would convey a cold and soulless image, so having some decoration was important to them to convey richness and warmth.”

The copper used in the logo is a reference to vintage kitchenware; the pastels are intended to reflect the sweetness and delicacy of Maison Constanti’s sweets and pastry treats and each bar of chocolate is given a different, symmetrical pattern, “to evoke the precision and carefully balanced ingredients,” explains Colnot. The pair also created hand painted illustrations for both product catalogues (below) and the website.

The logo is designed to look like an insignia, such as the stamps found on pots or silverware. The C is inspired by the typeface Didot and the m is intended to look like a house (a maison) with a double front door (Shah and Colnot opted for a more abstract m to avoid the logo looking like initials).

“We wanted to add decoration around it and tried art deco elements, then a glass bell that is used to cover cakes and eventually, we kept just the handle of this as a dot on top of the logo,” says Colnot. The finished dot appears in various sizes throughout the identity system. “Some people see a cherry on top of a cake, others see a person, others a bell. We like the idea that it suggests many things,” she adds.

As Maison Constanti is a small family business, the budget for the project was limited. “It was important to work on design solutions that wouldn’t be too expensive to produce in small quantities [so] we sourced skilled local producers, and turned a constraint into an ethical and socially responsible advantage for us and the client,” she adds.

Shah and Colnot’s work for Maison Constanti will be ongoing, says Colnot, as the company’s products change on a regular basis. “At the moment, we are working on Christmas bags, boxes and illustrated catalogues.”

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