For the first time, we're sharing a deeper look into our design process, starting with our newest fall offering: the Forest Story. From mood board to final products, so much goes into creating each story and collection in the Hester & Cook line. People have so many memories tied to times around the table –– knowing that our designs are the background for that, what feelings do we want to invoke? Who are we designing for, and when & where will they use these new pieces? These are just a few of the questions we ask when designing new tabletop goods. So how do we bring moods and feelings to the table? It all starts with a mood board.
Mood board submitted to Co-founder Angie Hester Cook and Design Director Ann Gowan-Smith for working on the new collection.
Creating mood boards is the first step to a new story, laying the foundation for our whole creative process. It sets the tone, color, and overall energy for our new designs, helping us develop our ideas before any product is even created. Each designer brings their own experience to the art creation process, and our Forest Story was created by our Senior Designer, Christie Vergona. Her background is in traditional illustration techniques, and her love of detailed etching, vintage textiles, and handmade prints all served as influences when she was putting together a mood board for crafting this collection. She gathered inspiration from a winter hiking trip to Asheville, where the detailed wood carving and elevated hunting lodge aesthetic of the Red Stag Grill worked its way into her pitch for these new designs.
Hiking and other real world inspiration for the Forest Story, including previous designs by the artist, Senior Designer Christie Vergona.
The Forest Story would serve as a bridge between rustic and elegant, with a kraft paper base providing a grounding backdrop to the whimsical, mysterious line drawings that make up each piece. She drew from a variety of artists and mediums to establish the visual style she wanted to create in; the graphic shapes necessary for hand carved items, the linework (whether carved, drawn, or stamped) giving texture and movement beyond their limited color palettes.
Sketches, color tests, and alternate art leading to the creation of the final Forest Story look.
After mood boards and product ideas are discussed, the final products begin to take shape. The Forest Story went through several versions on its way to the moody masterpiece you know it as today, with artwork drawn in different styles and colors to achieve the final look. Cofounder Angie has always loved the decorative arts, so incorporating her love of faux bois was a fun stepping stone as this story developed. As we refine the aesthetic, we will print test placemats and set tables with them to see how a design works in real life versus on screen or in a sketchbook. Sometimes these test prints spark office-wide discussions about color ways for upcoming designs, with people from other departments contributing to the final decisions (after all, we’re all H&C customers too). This liminal part of the design process is the time of experimenting and refining, of making sure the artwork is fulfilling the vision and mood put forth in the initial planning stages. Once the art style is reached, creation of product artwork can finally begin, with each item in a story (a place card, a table accent, etc) needing to be created to certain specifications.
After more drawing, press checks, and packaging, we finally get to hold our new product in our hands! The creativity continues as we set up photoshoots with our new pieces, styling with food and props to create the perfect setting to inspire your next gathering. Each story has a myriad of ways it can be used to celebrate, and it’s our hope to show that through different product pairings that demonstrate a variety of moods, levels of formality, and occasions.
Of course, the last step in the process is us being inspired by you: the tablescapes you share bring so much joy to our team, seeing their hard work in use for your special moments. That’s what helps us keep creating, knowing that we’re bringing you all together to celebrate. We hope you enjoyed learning more about the design process that goes into our stories and collections. Cheers!