Behind the scenes of Aromas Christmas coffee cup design project
Aromas is one of my all-time favourite cafes. Based in Weybridge, Surrey, it’s quite local for me and I’ve visited many times over the last few years. To meet with friends, to hold business meetings and networking, and to relax with my husband. Their food is incredible (I even felt the need to order my 30th birthday lunch from their menu last year!), and their service is always so welcoming. So, when the lovely owner, Inci, commissioned me to create the Aromas festive coffee cup designs for 2020, I was over the moon. The idea of creating a clean, creative, and on-brand, product packaging design for a local Surrey business, filled me with excitement!
I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a relaxed brief for a client project.
Inci and I had just started another festive contract together (the design and print of some on-brand Christmas cards to sell in store – using a watercolour illustration of the Aromas café I had painted the year before). So, when her email came through asking if I could help design their three Christmas take-away coffee cups, I was both surprised and delighted.
Speaking on the phone to discuss the project, Inci made it very clear she trusted me to do whatever I felt was best. Every designer and artist’s dream!
I ran a few ideas past her and each one was met with approval. My main thought being we should create each design as a standalone and complete artwork – making each cup something people would feel inspired to photograph and excited to share on social media. Perhaps even cups worthy of being reused over the Christmas period as plant pots or sweetie holders.
The only guidelines Inci gave me: the designs each needed to include the Aromas’ logo, she wanted one cup to be a festive red and the other two to be in the Aromas’ brand colours, and I was to sign each design to celebrate the collaboration between our two Surrey businesses – a café and an artist.
The clean and creative product packaging design
The Aromas café style and brand personality is very feel-good, innovative, and contemporary, with an artisan and wholesome touch.
This meant I knew, to create any kind of on-brand product packaging design for them (whether that be coffee cups, take-away bags, or cake boxes), I would need to balance the feel of something heart-warming, ‘real’, and creative, with something fun, clean, and distinctive.
I immediately pictured simple hand-drawn line-art illustrations. Their imperfect lines and shapes, and unfussy detail, would be a great fit for the brand. Then, in keeping with my idea of standalone and complete artwork, each cup could have a different illustrated ‘scene’. The largest cup would be winter trees with a starry sky. The middle cup would have hanging baubles. The smallest cup would be covered in mini gingerbread men and candy canes (with an added touch of fun from a couple of the gingerbread men being surprised at someone having already started to eat them!).
As I’ve already said, Inci asked that two of the cups be in Aromas’ brand colours (a deep teal and orange) and one be in a festive red. This was fine in principle but needed careful tweaking to get just right.
Red is a very strong colour, and Christmas red is traditionally quite crisp and bright. However, although the Aromas brand colour palette has a lot of punch to it and intensity, it also has so much warmth and comfort. The café’s colours both excite and hug you at the same time. This meant, a standard ‘Christmas red’ wasn’t going to blend well with the teal and orange.
Instead, I picked out a red with enough oomph to match the brand’s distinctive edge, but enough rounding warmth that brought it back down to earth.
Once I had the three colours lined up, it was quite easy to pick which cup became which. Teal for the winter trees, red for the baubles, and orange for the gingerbread men.
Holding the finished cups in my hand was such a proud moment, and seeing Aromas share their customers’ photos of take-away coffee and hot chocolate in my designs was incredibly special. A clean, creative, and on-brand product packaging design for a fellow Surrey small business… it was definitely one of the highlights of my year.
My biggest goal with any project is to spread some joy and, if the reaction I got on social media when I first shared the photo of the cups is anything to go by, I think this one definitely shared some magical Christmas spirit.
Are you a fellow small business in Surrey or the UK, looking to create some gorgeous product packaging? If so, get in touch for a chat. I would love to hear your ideas and see if I can help.