Responses by Angus Hyland and Jon Marshall, partners, Pentagram
Background: The brainchild of entrepreneur Rocco Ghrenassia, Soufflé is professional standard cookware that is designed to be a statement in itself. It’s aimed at a younger demographic who are completely comfortable buying investment pieces online.
An essential consideration was that the range was to be as sustainable as possible, both in the manufacturing process and with the amount of energy used during cooking time. With health concerns over traditional non-stick materials, it was also imperative that the range was manufactured using non-toxic materials.
We wanted to develop a compact range of premium products with the aim of connecting people to the kitchen. The products incorporate clever details that make them easy to use, while the colors express a French savoir faire and work well at the table as well as for cooking.
Reasoning: When we first spoke to Rocco about his concept for Soufflé, he asked our opinion on the proposed name. Angus said it was great, not only because it sounded “Super French,” but also because it contained both an elegance and a lightness within and made you smile. Our brand proposition was “Contemporary French delivered with joie de vivre,” which allowed us to mine the uniquely rich heritage of French food and visual culture.
Challenges: For the products, the biggest challenge was the industrial complexity of making enameled carbon steel. This material and finish combination came from the desire to make non-stick efficient cookware from non-toxic materials.
Favorite details: There is a nice interplay between industrial design and graphic design in the Soufflé S monogram, which takes its form from the double sided S hook for hanging the products on a rail. We are also proud of the U shaped handle used on the lid of the saucepan. Through extensive prototyping, we arrived at a design that is characterful, cool to the touch and allows multiple lids to be stored more efficiently by stacking or hanging directly on a rail.
Visual influences: The colors took a direct inspiration from French art and the landscape. The core brand color being French ultramarine named after the pigment of the artists’ palettes, and complemented by a beautiful orange, clementine and the tertiary colors of moutard and pêche.
The hand-drawn lettering style was in the style of illustrator Marion Deuchars, as it spoke directly to that confident spontaneity so prevalent in classic French poster art and graphics. The illustrations are in direct lineage to Henri Matisse’s paper cuts and made to be both child-friendly and accessible. Being approachable was important so we chose to offset the classy product design with a brand identity and packaging style that was both stylish but not snobbish. Both Rocco and Angus really love Hermès and think its esprit was another touchstone.
The industrial design of the products was inspired by some details on classic French cookware, such as the sideways facing handles on the lids of the all-purpose pan and small saucepan—a nod to classic French flat “lollipop” lids. The Citröen Type H van was also an influence for the way its corrugated bodywork creates a rigid structure from thin pressed metal, inspiring the corrugated pattern on the handles.
Anything new: It was important for Rocco that everything was manufactured in France for efficiency and sustainability reasons. We had to learn about all the processes, materials and finishes that were on offer within a 150km (93.21 miles) radius of the main cookware factory in one region of France. We worked with those limitations and opportunities for the designs.