Tuesday, March 22, 2016

News: Side by Side at Grimm & Co.

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Sheffield branding agency, Side by Side, has donated over over 1,000 hours to help bring Rotherham's magical Grimm & Co to life. The talented pair of designers took on not only branding but interior design, signwriting, packaging, a huge story mural, window dressing and art directing a large team of volunteers.

Founders Oliver Booth and Dave Greasley established Side by Side in 2013. The design studio specialises in branding, developing everything from websites to stationery, creating identities for a range of clients.

Launching last month, Grimm & Co is a Yorkshire charity and an Apothecary to the Magical which includes a retail store front in Rotherham town centre with a writing and mentoring space above that aims to help young people to acquire skills, unlock potential and develop imaginations.

With over £100,000 worth of time donated, one-half of Side by Side Oliver Booth said the decision to get involved wasn't easy, but one they could not turn down.

Booth (pictured top, left) said: "We were recommended by Alistair Hall, the designer behind our London counterpart, Hoxton Monster Supplies. With the guarantee of a blank canvas, free reign and a really worthwhile charity, it was too exciting to say no to. What started out as potential for a great portfolio piece soon became an addictive project, which allowed our studio to develop a lot of skills. As a small studio, time management was crucial. However, we stopped tracking time after 1,000 hours, we found it better to not know!"

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Side by Side said the core strategy behind the project was authenticity. They started by working with League of Gentlemen writer Jeremy Dyson, to develop the character of "Graham Grimm", the imaginary founder. 

Co-founder Dave Greasley said: "The backstory we created included lines like "Sandpaper, Spit & Sausages for Tea" which we thought gave a great insight to how Grimm would have ran his business.

"We constantly had to ask ourselves "Would Graham have done it like that? We'd portrayed him as an ill-tempered, hard-grafting, thrifty chap, so those traits had to flow through everything, from the hand-torn packaging, to the up-cycled interior. To ensure a totally immersive experience we pushed ourselves to become sign-writers, sound-scapers and prop-makers, to accompany our day-to-day skills.

"Being creative has afforded us a career, so it seemed only fair to give back to a charity that actively stimulates creativity in the next generation."

Side by Side brought in local makers and artists to create unique items to sell in the shop, from hand-whittled wands to blocks of "Human Phlegm."

Booth added: "To follow on from the overarching story we created, the products celebrate imperfection. Some are misaligned and the "Extract of Genius" is spelt wrong on a few labels. It was surprisingly hard to design things incorrectly!"
Deborah Bullivant, funder of Grimm & Co., said: "We told Side by Side our aspirations, a work of fiction which they turned into fact. Our brief was complicated – two sets of customers (magical and real), a background story set in 1148, a fictional character presiding over all and a mission to create a brand which would raise much needed funds for our children's charity. 

"Side by Side worked with us and whittled our vision into an authentic personality, which is unique yet classic, no-fuss yet stunning. Their expertise is unsurpassable in holding us to our story – helping us to build our identity into a world-class image beyond anything we had imagined for ourselves... and then they went a step further and created it!  

"They brought a maturity of experience juxtaposed with fresh, urban appeal to the interior design and attention to the finest, and even hidden detail. Side by Side's ideas are unique, cliché-free and their professionalism is exemplary, doing whatever it takes for their client with a touch of awe and wonder."

Converting the former Town Gate pub on Doncaster Gate at the foot of the High Street, the centre above the shop is expecting that over 1,300 young people will be able to take part in writing classes in the first year of Grimm & Co through story making workshops, school writing programmes, after school clubs and holiday camps for 7-18 year olds.

Grimm & Co website
Side by Side website

Images: Helena Fletcher / Side by Side

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