With the help of some close Swedish friends, Sophie our talented scandinavian designer, opens the acclaimed Fika Swedish Kitchen in Manly. She shares with us the advantages a career in graphic design has given her and a place to make your own…
A year ago, I had coffee with two Swedish girlfriends, Linda and Diana, and we talked about our future in Australia and the opportunities that lay ahead.
Linda, who has worked in the hospitality industry for the last 12 years, had always wanted to open her own place but felt it a little too overwhelming and had placed the project on hold... until that afternoon that is.
Linda was telling us how she had figured out the logistics of the Swedish restaurant, but didn’t know how to market the new cuisine to Australians. Diana and I, both graphic designers and foodies, started to realise that the missing companions might be us. A normal afternoon coffee turned in our first Fika meeting.
I started doing competitive research… visiting local cafes and restaurants, but this time observing every little detail. I tried to recognise what made a place successful as well as not so effective. We all know that good food and beverages aren’t the only things that attracts customers. I believe designers have an ability to value and master things that most people only subconsciously react to. You would rarely hear people say: I didn’t like the atmosphere because the floorplan didn’t encourage people to interact, or I didn’t even go to the place because I couldn't find a review and the website was confusing. These are all small aspects that contribute to a customer's perception of a eatery experience.
A big part of a designer’s job is to think of concepts. It was extra hard to figure it out for
ourselves – We wanted to say so much. The challenge was to refine it down to one tone of voice. This clear idea of who we are as a business doesn’t only help customers to understand what kind of place we are, but creates a compelling story for journalists to write about.
By the first month of opening, many of the well known food and lifestyle magazines and blogs had spread the word about Fika Swedish Kitchen.
I believe it is important to be consistent, not only with what we serve but how we brand our selves. Most restaurants hire a graphic designer to create a limited amount of collateral and communication devices, but that’s where the story ends. A restaurant's 'look and feel' might say one thing, but the 'tone of the voice' of their content say another.
Since Diana are I are both founders and designers, we have been fortunate enough to work on the delivery of the whole experience, not just bits and pieces. We have considered everything from interior design, music, staff, menus, food presentation, collateral design, the website and social media presence and PR offer. Of course we're not experts at all these things, but we understand the value of them all and are learning a lot along the way.
I would like to thank everyone at THERE for being so supportive during this challenging and incredible time.
Next time you are in Manly, pop in for Swedish meatballs and a cinnamon bun.