Next month IDEA Birmingham – a collaboration of leading figures from business and academia – will launch its first Birmingham Made Me Design EXPO at the Mailbox, a week-long celebration of everything that is good about industrial design in the region.
From June 15 to 22, the city centre venue will host a series of events and exhibitions showcasing talent from across the Midlands which will culminate in an awards night. Categories will include Best Brand, Best Innovation or Radical Design, Best Collaborative Design and Best Emerging Brand and a Lifetime Achievement Award for an exceptional contribution to innovation and design. The winners of each category will be decided by a public vote and people can vote online at www.ideabirmingham.co.uk for their favourites in each category. In a four-week series, we will showcase the shortlist for each of the categories and this week we are looking at the candidates for Best Emerging Brand.
Café Blend is the creation of Sophie Highfield (27) who has 11 years’ experience in the hospitality business. Incorporated in February 2010 and opened in Birmingham in June 2010. Since then they have developed a strong brand image and opened a second store in Manchester (Dec 2011), been shortlisted in the Birmingham Retail Awards (Mar 2011) for the Best Café and have recently won Theo Paphitis #SBS award. They have featured in trade magazines for their innovation and are soon to run a coffee martini reception for the Caffe Culture Show in London in May 2012. They are also soon to be teaching barista courses at Bournville College in Birmingham as well as continuing to develop skills among their own team of baristas. Offering live music events, coffee cocktail classes and community fundraising; Café Blend is going strength to strength with a very ambitious future ahead; planning to open two stores in the next year; alongside an e-commerce website. Cafe Blend embodies a pure love for discovery, culture and nothing but romanticism for coffee.
They are dedicated to providing their guests with new ways to enjoy quality coffee. They represent a blend of quality, authentic flavours inspired from around the world, a blend of coffee by day and liqueur concoction by night. The branding and design reflects their story, with serenity and relaxation being highlighted by the chosen colours of the logo; each store is an “oasis”. It is a place to be enjoyed.
William Chase, founder of Tyrrells has recently embarked on a new venture based out of his farm in Herefordshire, the Chase Distillery producing their first bottle of Chase Vodka in 2008 and voted the Best Vodka by San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2010.
Telling his story William Chase says: “I grew up here in Herefordshire and feel very lucky to have been brought up in this beautiful part of the world. I had been farming potatoes for 20 years, mostly supplying supermarkets as a commodity, which left me feeling detached – without any feedback from the end customer. I was hit one day with the ‘eureka’ moment by turning my potatoes into chips. I then spent 2002 travelling the world to source the equipment and recipe to make potato chips. By the summer, “Tyrrells” was born. As Tyrrells grew I was searching for the next step. In 2004 whilst travelling in the USA, looking for packaging equipment for the chips, I stumbled on a small distillery making potato vodka and thought this would be a great new chapter to life. So I returned home, thought about it and decided it would definitely be more fun making vodka.
“I researched the market and found it to be full of a lot of ‘twee’ marketing stories or large corporate companies. So I thought there would be a market if we could make a quality product and sell it with provenance and pedigree. From the idea in 2004, it took us until April fool’s day 2008 to make the first of our potatoes and then make the first batch of vodka in June 2008. Upon tasting the very first drop from the column before filtering I was so enamoured and proud of it I decided to call it Chase Vodka.
“So the William Chase distillery was born. The next shock was how little volume we produced: 16 tonnes of potatoes produced only 1,000 litres of alcohol! Which after 40 hours was very disheartening but it is testament to the quality of our vodka. So with this supreme quality over all of the other mass produced vodka I was sure it work.”
Disorder Ltd is Birmingham’s Award Winning Best Independent Retailer. Located on Needless Alley, just off New Street. Defined as, ‘super cool’ by Sixty Nine Magazine, recommended as one of five reasons to visit Birmingham by The Guardian, and endorsed as, ‘one of the cleverest retailers I have seen in the UK in years,’ by international Brand Consultant Mary Portas.
Disorder has its own menswear label, specializing in truly ground breaking tailoring, made in the city itself and it combines art with graphics giving it an inconceivable edge. A beacon to those who love creatively made clothes with design integrity. ‘A very special shop even by world standards,’ Vogue Magazine.
Refreshing and individual cutting edge clothing (particularly the menswear) in the heart of Birmingham, for those who want something different from the chain store, youth-market or bespoke classic tailor.
Listed as one of the Top 100 People in the Jewellery Industry by Professional Jeweller 2010, Fei Liu is growing in international acclaim. Originally from Chong Qin, China, Liu received his training from the School of Jewellery, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design and in 2006, launched his own company, Fei Liu Fine Jewellery. The essence of Fei Liu Fine Jewellery is that of great drama and elegance.
For Liu, design is all about the intricate details. Pairing delicately sculpted settings with vivid and colourful stones, Fei Liu’s look is a refined mix of femininity and drama. Combining his Eastern heritage with Western design, each piece is uniquely inspired with a three dimensional edge. Creating pieces that redefine luxury, Fei Liu’s jewellery is lavishly delicate and elegantly bold.