Pentagram has worked with French start-up Soufflé on its first collection of high-end oven-to-table cookware. Handcrafted in Northeastern France, and perfectly expressing the best aspects of informal French cuisine and culture, Pentagram designed both the four-piece cookware set and the accompanying brand identity.
The brainchild of entrepreneur Rocco Ghrenassia, Soufflé makes professional standard cookware which is a statement in itself. Aimed at a younger demographic who are completely comfortable buying investment pieces online, Soufflé is designed to bring people together through their appetite for food and fine craftsmanship.
An essential consideration for Soufflé was that the range was as sustainable as possible, both in the manufacturing process and with the amount of energy used during cooking. With health concerns over traditional non-stick materials, it was also imperative that the range was manufactured using non-toxic materials.
The design team first undertook extensive research to streamline the range by determining the most useful combination of pieces. Soufflé’s cookware is manufactured using traditional methods and materials, and every element from the enamel, to the lids and handles is made in France. Working with local manufacturers meant there were certain limitations on the design, as some standard pieces and standard tooling had to be used to create the range. The design team’s challenge was to work within these constraints but still produce a distinctive product that would appeal to a discerning and highly visually literate audience.
Professional cookware is manufactured using carbon steel which means it heats up quickly but requires seasoning, careful maintenance and is not dishwasher-safe. After an extensive research and development period, Pentagram worked with the manufacturers to develop a unique and technically complex process whereby the carbon steel is coated with enamel. This combines all of the advantages of both materials and gives the distinctive colourful appearance of traditional French cookware. Customers can choose between four colourways—a vibrant clementine and Mediterranean blue, and a softer lemon and peach.
The design team worked hard to ensure that the cookware set is easy to store and use, with carefully thought-out details that are both practical and attractive. While the overall appearance is minimal and sleek, some traditional French details were added, such as flat lids with side handles for easy draining and storage. Pressed metal was used for the handles, working with a process that could be manufactured locally. To add strength and character to the handles, the design team created a unique ribbed design, which echoes the pattern found on the classic Citroën H van. A matching hanging rail and bespoke double-sided hook were also designed by the team, as well as attractive, child-friendly packaging to house the cookware.
The brand identity features a handcrafted serif word marque with a ligature and upturned accent, giving a feeling of lightness and ‘joi de vivre’. This is combined with a strapline which reinforces the brand’s provenance and traditional roots. The team also designed a monogram which takes its form from the Soufflé hook, and three traditional ‘makers marks’. These are used at an angle to mimic a traditional stamp, and reinforce the French-manufactured brand’s provenance.
A set of rustic-looking icons was created to signal messages such as ‘Express Shipping’ and ‘Refer a Friend’, and the informal colour palette used throughout perfectly complements the colours of the cookware. Pentagram’s design team art-directed all of the brand photography and created a set of playful food-related illustrations which (alongside hand lettering by Marion Deuchars) feature in campaigns and in social media assets.
With its striking design and playful brand identity, Pentagram has created a highly aspirational and sustainable cookware brand. The perfect blend of modern approach and traditional manufacturing expertise, Soufflé is sure to appeal to food lovers everywhere.