Founded in 2011 by Cassandra Ellis, Atelier Ellis is an independent paint-maker focused on creating beautifully crafted, hand-mixed paints. They’ve been steadily gaining a reputation for beautiful, quiet colours made with care, under the name ‘Ellis Paints’.
But the growing success of the business had caused a rethink and a change in production and operations.
To develop the company more sustainably, a decision was made to bring the paint mixing in-house, setting up a workshop in Battersea. As well as gaining more control over the meticulous production process, Atelier Ellis felt it was the perfect moment to reassess the name, the brand identity and packaging to reflect the changes happening in the company.
So they turned to Counter Studio, a strategic brand consultancy headed up by designers David Marshall and Elizabeth Ellis (whose surname is complete coincidence: she’s no relation to Cassandra). The pair have worked in the design industry for more than 30 years between them, for clients including the British Hat Guild, the AA, British Airways, Bibendum, Fontsmith, P&O Cruises and Nokia.
A simple story
The first change Counter Studio made was to align the two different brands into one simple story – with the paint business dropping under the main Atelier Ellis name. This allowed them all to focus on building a stronger, more unified brand and a simpler customer experience.
The heart of the concept was that Atelier Ellis enables people living in joyous, safe and beautiful homes to tell their own story and create the perfect backdrop to how they wish to live. This core thought of ‘telling their own story’ became the starting point for the refreshed look of the brand.
Taking story-telling as their inspiration, Counter Studio developed a refined and calm design direction that draws on the visual language of books.
Inspired by books
As Elizabeth explains: “The design of the labels subtly echoes a title page, while a classic style of typography allows words and space to become the low-key heroes. We introduced a modern interpretation of traditional book typeface, which was used alongside a sophisticated colour palette of Bitter Chocolate, Warm White and Smoked Green-Blue from the Atelier Ellis Paint collection.”
They redrew the wordmark from scratch based on the same characteristics as Didot in the original logo. “But we refined the shapes and added a subtle sense of warmth and joy to the letters,” says Elizbeth, “all while making it more robust and legible at any size – a contemporary take on a traditional classic. The whole identity is deliberately understated and quiet, allowing the individual paints and the stories to take centre stage.”
For a brand with stories at its core, language is an incredibly important part of the identity and the copywriting needed to be pitch-perfect. Crafting by Ed Pritchard, these words bring richness and vibrancy while capturing the subtle delicacy and honesty of the colours.
From the ground up
Moving the paint production in-house was an opportunity to rethink the design of the tins from the ground up. The new fully recyclable metal tins needed a design solution that would work across three different sizes, three different paint finishes and more than 50 different colours: 450 combinations in all and growing.
“The system we created allowed for an elegantly simple tin design that works effortlessly across the various sizes,” says Elizabeth, “with a single-size label applied by hand to the front of each tin to distinguish the different paint finishes and colours.
“The identity has been design to allow the colours and the stories around them to shine – sophisticated, refined and beautifully quiet, just like the paint itself.”