design at itsu [grocery].png

design at itsu [grocery]

A little company with big plans…

We’re not like most companies our size; one thing that really sets us apart is the amount of time and energy we spend innovating. We have a full-time team of 7 solely dedicated to developing new products, and 2 designers who make those products and our brand look beautiful.

That’s just on the [grocery] side of the business, the restaurant team has even more people, but they can do their own blog someday.

Now over to our amazing designers, Olivia Byrne and Aisha Orme to tell you more….


Working in the itsu design department is always collaborative process. We love to get input not only from the design team, but also from the marketing team, our Managing Director Claudia, and even Julian our founder! This is how we get our best results.

The design process for our brilliant’broth range was no exception. The packaging was a year in the making; 2 bottle shapes, 3 photoshoots and over 50 concepts [to be honest, I lost count!] to get to where we are today.

The first brilliant‘broth we launched was in a cube shaped bottle with very little space on the front, meaning the product didn’t have the shelf presence it deserved.

This was not good enough for us, so within a few months of the launch we revisited the design [as we often do!]. This time we chose a taller bottle with more shelf presence and created an entirely new logo configuration which has since carried onto all new packaging.

The next step was working on the beautiful food photography to emphasise the products use and beauty [our tagline is ‘eat beautiful‘ after all!]. We also added some clever photos on one side of pack showing the broths versatility and a story connecting the product to our restaurants on the other.

Fun fact: the food styling for the images on the side of pack was based on pie charts! As we wanted the layout to be as clear and simple for the consumer to understand as possible.

I think we can say with confidence that this design was worth the wait!

Our new products are often developed from drawings and sketches made by our founder, Julian Metcalfe. We love to see how he imagines the product and then work together to achieve a design that brings his vision to life. It is not uncommon to come into the office on a Monday morning to find an amazing, mocked up leaflet, box or pot on the desk!

This is exactly how our noodle‘soup came to life. Modelled on a traditional Asian takeaway container, this pot had a clear vision from the start. With a lot of development, 2 photoshoots, hours of copywriting and shelf testing, we arrived at a design that not only looks great and stands out on shelf, but is also is easy to eat out of.


Beginning my role as Junior Graphic Designer I really hadn’t anticipated the momentous amount of work required to be in charge of an international trade show – believe me, I don’t think trained professionals do either! Thankfully, I love being part of a small team and was more than willing to be involved in getting itsu overseas.

Fresh faced and straight out of uni, I was determined to impress. Being part of the itsu team means taking on board every opinion, incorporating the functional with the beautiful. I learnt that design is not just about creating something eye catching, it’s about fulfilling a purpose in the most beautiful way.

Working closely with the international sales and marketing teams, I was able to create a functional and highly complimented stand. Showcasing our phenomenal packaging by creating an ‘itsu wall‘ of products, surrounded by our signature itsu pink frame really helped us stand out proud at our first international reveal. Also, it helped that we sampled fresh hot gyoza and bao‘buns every single day!

Food is clearly the way to people’s hearts as from this, my international design role became increasingly more hectic as we are now available in 11 different countries. So, if you’re ever craving an itsu on your holidays, make sure you look out for us in the supermarkets, we’ve got you covered…

Hopefully this gives you an idea of how we work, and why our products and brand looks and feels the way it does. If you would like to see a carton of brilliant‘broth in person you can find them in Ocado, M&S and Wholefoods. You’ll have to wait a bit longer until you can buy noodle‘soup.. in fact we probably shouldn’t even be talking about it!