Getting started

With over 40 individual pubs across South England & Wales, City Pub Company have a reputation as experts in developing and running characterful pubs. So when they came to us to create a new-to-market, all-day-trading bar & restaurant concept, we already knew it would be a success.

Located on a former Café Rouge site in Bury St Edmunds (a beautiful, historic English market town), we knew this site was going to be a little different. Stepping into the grade II listed building, originally built in 1891 we certainly engaged with the challenge. Adapting the space to create an optimal seating plan, smoother customer journey and modern aesthetic was all key – without disrupting the original architecture and features.

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Bringing people together

Before we embarked on any design work, it was important for us to define the optimum positioning, proposition and experience strategy for the concept, to ensure it wouldn’t just be unique to the local marketplace in Bury St Edmunds, but would also stand out in similar environments across the country in future – a scalable concept (for even more people to enjoy!).

That strategy? Bringing people together. Sharing is at the core of Damson & Wilde (hence the ampersand in the name). That essence translates across all further aspects of the project execution, as we explored how every element could deliver against this sentiment, creating spaces where people can gather, no matter how many of them.

From there we explored how that could define recognisable experience hallmarks and tangible environment icons to draw people together, creating desire to gather across every daypart – not to mention bringing the garden in, and the dining out.

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The right name brings it together

Naming can get pretty subjective – so we laid out a clear strategy from the get go, and through a combination of clear parameters and client workshops we created Damson & Wilde – a marriage of traditional English connotations reflective of the space’s connection to nature and ‘Wilde’ attitude.

With naming nailed, Damson & Wilde was then brought to life through a crafted & considered brand identity. We needed a look that felt established, but fresh, that spoke to the quality of experience but still felt accessible. A delicate but reliable serif with a confident and expressive ampersand achieved just that, and when paired with an enthusiastic handscript and engaging image layout, we knew we were on to a winner. You’ll see brand touches across crockery, tone of voice coming through on wall neons and mirror messages and of course the whole picture on their website (look out for that below).

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Feeling green-fingered

Finally into the space itself. Our interior scope covered everything from overall design direction, through to full design development, management and delivery, and given the brand & experience strategy, and visual ID already in place, we were perfectly positioned to address all of City Pub Company’s needs and wants for the environment.

Our design remained sympathetic to the historic nature of the building, enhancing original features (like decorative ceiling motifs, panelling and fireplaces), whilst elevating the overall space with contemporary décor. We balanced a deep navy with burnt orange tones, luxurious materials and a great variety of foliage to create a warm & welcoming atmosphere.

Standout features like the private dining room made the most of the existing space, using a suspended, illuminated raft planter to blend the boundary between garden and interior. The result was a charming, fully flexible dining area that seats 16, ideal for functions and celebrations alike.

The garden itself was given as much attention as the interior, as it matched the space for covers – creating an opportunity to create a unique experience point for D&W. The introduction of a retractable roof (covering three quarters of the garden) meant that even dining during reliable British rain was never an issue.

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Don't just take our word for it