Born in 1861 to a family of successful leather merchants, Walter Whittard’s passion was for tea, coffee and cocoa. These globally sourced, costly commodities are commonplace today but in the nineteenth century represented thrilling new taste sensations for discerning Victorians. Walter’s products including the bespoke blends that marked Whittards out from its competitors were sold in meticulously packaged, lovingly presented boxes and bags in his first store on Fleet Street. Today, with more than fifty UK stores, the business strives to match Walter’s passion for authenticity and innovation and has expanded its range to include equipment, confectionery and tableware.
Blass has worked on a number of Whittard sites, each time delivering experiential design that both encourages the customer to try the product and presents the business as expert in its field. In 2013 at the Glasgow store we sought to put Whittard heritage centre stage. Taking inspiration from existing packaging Blass designed a wallpaper in the style of William Morris, lending the Buchanan Street location an immediate authority. Our experience within product design enabled us to develop unique tea tasting table with integrated hot plates to differentiate this historic company from its retail competitors. Similarly our in-house furniture design expertise was brought to bear in the design of the cash desk with its drawers evoking the style of the early stores.
At Notting Hill in the same year the focus of the store is on Whittard’s extensive range of fruit tea which extends far beyond the combinations on offer at more general retailers and reflects the exploratory, mercantile qualities of the business. We made a virtue of the conservatory section of the store to design a light, bright space and introduced flooring with a pantry-like feel, appropriate for the neighbourhood location. This site also benefited from the innovative hotplate table design to keep the tasting pots safely warm and inviting.