Friends of Ham, Ilkley Leisure Retail

Friends of Ham is located in one of the most locally cherished buildings, just a stone’s throw from Ilkley Railway Station. The former Ilkley Gazette office is within the conservation area of the small Yorkshire town and contains many unique architectural features and original details.

Friends of Ham began in 2012 with the opening of its first venue in Leeds, inspired by the ‘Jamon Bars’ of Spain, the growing London café culture and the craft beer bars of the USA. Following the successful extension of the Leeds venue in the summer of 2014, Friends of Ham jumped at the opportunity to open their second venue within the beautiful town of Ilkley.

The design brief from the client was to create a venue that retained the original features, reflected the brand proposition and expanded the design detailing, tailoring it to suit the location. They did not want an ‘identikit’ version of the Leeds venue. It needed to be able to provide a standalone retail offering and a memorable social experience for both the local community and customers from further afield.

Showcasing a wide range of craft beer, wine and fresh quality produce made by small artisan producers, both locally and from further afield. You will find a wide selection of charcuterie and speciality cheeses perfectly paired with delicious chutneys and fresh, locally produced bread, creating their mouth-watering food platters.

Customers can purchase any item from the menu and much more, including homeware and expertly crafted hampers from the deli counter to take home, creating the perfect partnership of independent retailing in a unique social environment.

The traditional shop front has been carefully restored with a design scheme which is sympathetic to the building and local area. Featuring a traditional Victorian style awning, hand painted fascia sign and iconic ‘brand pig’ projection sign, the external scheme enhances the existing architectural features resulting in an elegant, traditional style shopkeeper’s frontage.

The large windows provided a huge opportunity for fantastic window displays. Being the ‘eyes’ of the building, this is where passers by get their first glimpse of what is on offer. Featuring full height window shelving, stacked with delicious delights and a top rail to hang ham legs from, it’s certainly a feast for the eyes.

On entering the building you are greeted by the retail space with deli counter and main bar. Being the hub of the store, this is where the action happens.

The deli counter and bar features reclaimed timber panelling with laser etched details. It’s top is clad in white Carrara marble which is also used by the artisan supplier, Fausto Guadagri, to cure his Lardo di Colonnata on for 10 months before it makes its way to Friends of Ham.

The retail shelving and back bar is a statement piece showcasing the extensive product range, creating a ‘library’ of culinary delights. Featuring a roller ladder, reclaimed timber and worn blackened steel framework.

The serve over fridge packed full of goodies, enticing the customer, adds to the ultimate ‘foodie’ retail experience. Don’t forget to grab yourself a growler too on your way out!

The original features of the timber flooring, fireplace and exposed brickwork create a unique environment reflecting the buildings history.

Hand painted brand murals depict the origins of the produce sold, telling the story behind the brand, connecting the produce to the customer. Designed by Known Aim and painted by Posh Fruit Creative.

A key aspect of the retail strategy was to integrate the offering throughout the whole customer experience. If a customer decides to have lunch or dinner, they can also purchase any item to take home. Customers can also purchase items online and collect later on when they pop in for a drink after work. Great for those last minute dinner party additions! Shop and have a glass of wine at the same time, what could be better!

Within the other areas of the premises the brand story continues. The back room offers a beautiful casual dining experience. The original fireplace has been opened up and a log burning stove installed. The original timber flooring continues through and works beautifully with the reclaimed timber display shelving, exposed brickwork and renovated, original sash windows.

The furniture comprises of button backed leather banquet seating, reclaimed dining chairs and hand crafted bespoke tables from Stump Furniture made from reclaimed timber, old cheese maturing planks and even a Speyside Siberia barrel from local supplier Ilkley Brewery.

The lighting throughout the building was critical in creating the perfect atmosphere as well as showcasing the retail produce to its best. Featuring dedicated retail spot lighting for the display shelves, Anglepoise and clamp on style wall lights, copper and oak fittings as well as a bespoke feature chandelier by Tom Raffield, which takes centre stage within the back room.

The ‘Tasting Room, located within the basement, is a unique space which is light and airy, providing additional customer seating and events space. There are additional product displays and key features such as the stunning original Victorian stove, sitting proudly on the back wall. White washed, reclaimed timber panelling, banquet seating and a hand mixed concrete floor, adding a simplistic modern touch to the space, surround this.

Storytelling was one of the most critical elements of the design process. Connecting the heritage of the building with the brand, in addition to the product and service offering, was very important. This was delivered through original design details, murals and quirky features such as the hand painted illustrations on the stair risers depicting ‘Journalist Pigs’ adding wit and humour to the brand story and connecting with the previous use of the building.

The building has been brought back to life and its heritage will continue for many years to come, with more stories to tell.

By merging the story of the building with the story of the brand and produce, the design engages and educates the customer on all levels, creating a truly unique experience.

Work included:

  • Interior Design
  • Store Planning
  • Fixture Design
  • Component Detailing
  • Lighting Design
  • Exterior Signage
  • Design Intent Drawings
  • Local Authority Approvals
  • Site Surveys
  • Project Management
  • CDM Principal Designer

(Photography by Justin Slee)