When Makers and Allies was approached to take on the project of branding and designing a new restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo, the only pieces that we had to start with were a name and an idea. The name was Foremost Wine Company, after the historic dairy building in which the restaurant was located; the idea was to create a beautiful, interesting space that captured the true heart and soul of wine. We came on board in May of 2014 to help transform the 4,000 square foot empty warehouse that had been vacant for years, complete with dirt on the floors and spiderwebs in the ceiling. We knew this would be a project that would stretch every one of our creative muscles, and we couldn’t wait to get started! Makers & Allies brought on a small army of talented contractors and individuals to help bring the branding and interior space to life. From the menus on the table, to the chair and furniture selection, to the lighting to the signage, Makers & Allies had a hand in every aspect of the project.
The first step in the project was to answer the question: What is Foremost?
MOODBOARD & INITIAL CONCEPT
Makers and Allies has worked closely with the owner and in the wine industry for years, and through these experiences we recognized a sense of passion, richness, and down to earthiness that we felt many wine-based establishments lacked. There was also a large disconnect between the roots of the wine, and the liquid in your glass. Our goal was to make Foremost a space that was full of life and beauty that feels welcoming to people from all levels of wine experience, from the winemakers who came to find that certain rare bottle, to the wine rookies who wandered in and don’t even know where to start. From this desire we developed a brand mission statement:
FOREMOST WINE COMPANY stems from a community of passionate farmers, wine makers and wine drinkers, with the common goal of making great wine accessible to the masses.
The next step in the project was creating the visual feel of Foremost. For both the physical space and brand presence, we were highly inspired by the blend of science, nature, hard work and superstition that is found in wine making. From there, we derived inspiration from biodynamic wine-making, astrology, and the farmer’s almanac. All these elements were thoughtfully combined to create a brand that provokes thought and forges a memorable experience.
EXTERIOR & SIGNAGE
Foremost Wine Company is located in the Creamery district of Downtown San Luis Obispo: a quirky, historic building that hadn’t been repainted since the 1980’s. The exterior of the Creamery was in dire need of a facelift, which included repainting the facade and designing custom Foremost signage made by local furniture designer, Jory Brigham.
The Creamery no longer looks like banana split sundae, and looks a bit more like coffee chocolate chip cookie dough.
As you enter Foremost from the main street, you walk in to a long corridor which funnels you towards the hostess stand. Originally there was a large wall that separated an empty room (soon to be the lounge) from the hallway, and a window to the right (which would soon be the wine cellar). To keep some privacy and intimacy in the lounge, but also encourage exploration in to the space, we left part of the wall and created a peek through window adorned with snake plants as a slight barrier. In addition to opening up the space, we created a custom green wall built out of reclaimed red wine staves (special thanks to Jennifer Schaar, our local plant dealer) and a custom mural which draws your eye from the front door all the way down the hall to the hostess stand.
With a rich color palette, soft fabrics, tufted leathers, natural stones and adorned with low-light foliage, the lounge quickly became the sexiest place to relax with a glass of wine in Foremost.
One of our favorite elements in the Foremost space … the custom wall mural. We were thrilled to collaborate with artist Grady McFerrin and took on an Art Director role for this part of the project, while Grady put his bad ass illustration skills to test on what is probably one of the largest illustrations we’ve worked on yet.
The mural takes inspiration from biodynamic wine making and has many mystical symbols throughout, tying in the life cycle of the moon, the flowers, and even frames the wine cellar window on the right hand side.
The illustration was just one piece of the puzzle, executing and installing the mural as a full wall vinyl on a slanted incline was a whole ‘nother ball game. Elizabeth and her talented team from Lola Red Design Group came on board to install the mural, and also helped with a lot of the interior signage and wall vinyls throughout. We couldn’t be happier with the final product, it truly makes a huge impact and sets the tone for the evening as you first enter the space.
MAIN DINING ROOM
As you enter the main dining room of Foremost, you realize there’s much more to explore. What was once an empty warehouse, with blank walls and vaulted ceilings was transformed in to a dynamic space for dining and mingling. From the chairs to the light fixtures, the wall textures to the table tops, to the antlers and the chalkboard. We literally touched every square inch of that dining room. Whether you’d like to belly up at the charcuterie bar, have a romantic evening in a nook, or have a party at a long communal table, the dining room has a place for everyone. We’ll let the photos tell the rest.
When health inspection came in and said we had to have an awning or roof 10′ over the charcuterie bar, we suddenly had to come up with a solution to shelter the curved bar in the middle of the dining room. Within 3 weeks, we created 3D renders, worked with an architectural engineer to make sure it would withstand an earthquake and called on Joe Kenny to execute, bring in and install the Golden Gate bridge over the charcuterie bar. Speaking of bridges, getting the lighting and floor plan past city inspection was an important bridge we knew we’d have to cross prior to opening. We called on Erica Gomez from Inner Light Interior Design to execute the reflected lighting plan and make sure the lighting passed code and Foremost was in good hands when it came time to pass inspection prior to opening. Never underestimate the power of lighting, it is one of the most important factors in setting the mood in an environment but must also pass government regulations in California too.
Special thanks to Crofthouse in Los Angeles for their beautiful craftsmanship on the 20′ x 30′ banquet, the reclaimed wood mirrors and reclaimed table tops. They were a pleasure to work with and from concept to completion were able to bring the vision from 3D renders to life in only 8 weeks.
TASTING BAR & WINE SHOP
Foremost happened to have 2 bars when we came in to the picture… One of them, featured below, jut felt like a massive brown blob in the middle of the space. We used reclaimed red wine staves from Box Kite Barn Yard in San Luis Obispo to cover the wall and gave it an industrial yet chic finish with pipe shelving and ornate custom built and hand lettered chalkboard to highlight specials and ongoing events.
This wall would become a focal backdrop for conversation and in order to warm up the space, we needed to bring in some natural textures and a central brand mark to set the stage.
Lola Red hand stenciled the brand mark and Joe Kenny custom built the antler chandelier in the center of the hallway from 12 elk antlers that were sent from Washington (no animals were harmed in the making of the chandelier).
The most glorious hallway of wine, with wine racks that were built from scratch by the owner’s dad and glass panels above the wine selections to highlight the flavor profiles of the wines displayed below and to call out “staff picks and favorites”.
PRIVATE DINING ROOM
Last but not least, the private dining room. Which transformed from a very echoey room to a rich space for celebrations, events, and meetings. The walls were covered with earth tones and wine, the ceiling in burlap to absorb the noise (but it had to be fire retardant and certified) and the back wall includes a gorgeous topographic mural. The mural was done with a flat black paint and a glossy black vinyl on top, which gave it a neat effect when the light reflects off of it. This same pattern is used on the website, on the business cards and in different elements throughout the brand as well.
Thanks for taking a look behind the scenes in to the process of building Foremost. Special thanks to everyone who was involved and helped make this project a success. Cheers!
For additional info, questions or high-fives… reach out to email@example.com
CLICK HERE to view the completed interior
CLICK HERE to view the complete branding