Charlie Smith Design

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Pizza Masterclass


We were lucky enough to be one of the first to test out Radio Alice’s, Pizza Master Class, held by co-founder Matteo Aloe.

Although we have been working with Radio Alice for a while now, and you would have thought we knew all there was to know about their pizza, the masterclass took it to another level. Matteo took us through all the details of what really makes a Radio Alice pizza better than all the rest.

We had always assumed that there was one type of pizza that was better than all the rest, Italian pizza. But as it turns out, within this there are many other different types of pizza. And even seemingly small things from the way the dough is risen, to the way it is stretched out, to how it is placed into the oven can change the whole character of the pizza.

So, it wouldn’t be fair to go on about how awesome it was to hear all this stuff, without actually telling you a little about it! We started off with a sneak preview of tomorrow’s dough. Matteo brought out the beloved mother dough for us all to have a sniff at. Not as weird as it sounds, it smells like wine, or yoghurt due to the bacteria doing it’s thing inside. The types of flour and the temperature are also very important, Matteo selects grains that are grown traditionally. They take longer to grow, which is why they aren’t grown on a large scale, but the extra time means the crops can draw more nitrogen from the earth. The naturally present nitrogen is then much easier for us to digest than the more common, artificially placed nitrogen that is in most flour we eat.

Radio Alice’s dough is carefully timed so that it is at it’s peak just as service picks up. Often pizzerias chill their sourdoughs so that timing becomes less important. But this kills the bacteria, and it’s the live bacteria still present in Radio Alice pizzas which helps us digest the dough making it lighter on our stomachs. So they go about it the hard way, making sure to carefully calculate when to make the dough and how much they will be needing.

Next we were shown how to gently pat the dough into shape, and carefully stretch it over the backs of our hands. These little doughs are clearly sensitive souls and need a lot of care. This all means that less air is knocked out of the dough. No fancy twirling the doughs over our heads here (we were a little disappointed not to learn this trick, but if it means a fluffier crust we’re willing to let this slide).

The most nerve wracking part after successfully shaping the life out of our doughs, was getting the things onto the pizza paddle; a giant spade like thing with holes in. The paddle with holes is used because by not scooping up too much semolina they can get the perfect crunchy base without getting a burnt flavour.

The cooking process we found out is actually a little slower than traditional pizza, 4 minutes in a 300 degree oven, rather than 90 seconds in a 500 degree oven. This means they can get a nice even bake without scorching either the dough or the toppings. It allows them to get the tell tale sign of a good Radio Alice pizza (it stands up on its own!) Rather than flopping over like a classic Neapolitan pizza would.

What they put in the oven and what they don’t is another carefully thought out point, there are some of their ingredients that would be ruined by the 300 degree heat, things like the prosciutto for instance. Some ingredients love the heat of course, and so their fiordilatte are put in just at the right moment, Radio Alice’s pizzas are as big on creamy, melty cheese as any other!

At the end of the class we each got to enjoy the pizza’s we’d made, and a little of everyone else’s. Not as good as the real thing, but not too far off! We were sent home with a little sourdough mother of our own and the knowledge to give pizza making a go at home.

It was great to see and hear all about the little details that go into creating something that we are likely to scoff down in about 10 minutes… There is often so much more to a brand than what comes across on a day to day basis. Workshops like these are great for building a deeper understanding of a company and what they do. The tricky part is balancing informing people about all these great qualities without turning an evening into a lecture.

Hopefully by giving customers the chance to delve deeper into the brand, these workshops will strike the right balance. And, who doesn’t want to spend a couple of hours over some good pizza with interesting people and a glass of organic wine or two!

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Finding the best people for the job


At CSD we pride ourselves on working with the best collaborators, searching long and hard until we find the right people for the job. A recent branding project for a jewellery company proved just that.

We commissioned a beautiful but extremely intricate illustration from Olivia Knapp which we needed to be foiled in two colours on a range of collateral including carrier bags.

With a tight deadline, a small print run and the approaching Chinese New Year we wanted to keep production of the bags in the UK. So, armed with detailed visuals we set about approaching a variety of producers. All the bag manufacturers we found advised us that the designs were too detailed to be foiled and that we should consider a metallic pantone for the bag printing instead. 

Undeterred, we continued our search, finally finding the brilliant A14 who agreed to help with the foiling and manufacturing of the bags.

Discussing the project further we agreed to use a magnesium foil block which holds more detail than regular foil blocks and decided, given the complexity of the design, we would do a foil proof to confirm we could achieve the desired level of detail. 

The proofs were a success and showed the level of detail was possible, however, this was only at the larger bag size. We also needed to produce the Kraken at a much smaller scale to be used on the lining of silks in jewellery boxes and also business cards. For this we asked the illustrator to create a version of the Kraken with considerably less detail. This eliminated many of the finer lines which would have disappeared at the smaller scale.

Working closely with the client, illustrator and printers we perfected the second illustration so that all parties were happy. Resulting in a set of carrier bags with fully foiled illustrations which captured all the detail envisaged at the start of the project.

“Thank you so much for the incredible print/foil sample you did for us. I’ve produced a lot of things over the years and never to this quality; it really is stunning. It’s so rare that something is even better than hoped for, which this certainly was.” Client quote on receipt of the foiled proof.

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We’ve moved!


We’re currently unpacking boxes, sorting book shelves and settling into our new studio.

You can now find Charlie Smith Design at:
Studio 22, Royal Victoria Patriotic Building
John Archer Way, London SW18 3SX


Filler Podcast


This weeks Filler podcast features Charlie talking about the studio, recent projects and how she got into design. You can listen to the podcast here.


Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from all of us at Charlie Smith Design. Thank you for your support this year, have a great break and see you in 2016!


YCN Membership


We are delighted to announce that we are now part of YCN and one of the 24 agencies who they showcase on their website. Our profile on the site includes a range of case studies which explore our work in more depth as well as client testimonials and information on us. You can find our profile here


Breakfast Briefing


Charlie recently gave a talk along side Cristina Fedi on our love for illustration and how we work with illustrators on our projects for Byron. It was a brilliant morning hosted by YCN, including an inspiring talk by Alice Bowsher about her work as an illustrator and Doris Tydeman introduced us to work by some great new illustrators.

Read YCN’s write up on the talk here


Modern Heraldry


Our work for John Lewis’s partnership with Herbert Parkinson and our identity for The Bread Factory have been featured in this lovely book on modern heraldry by Counter Print. Read more about the book here.


Sign of the Times


Recently we participated in the ‘Sign of the Times’ exhibition. An exhibition organised by NB Studio in conjunction with Spring Chicken, challenging the current ‘Elderly’ road sign.

The brief was simply to reinvent the sign, addressing the negative way that elderly people are depicted on the current sign. There were some brilliant submissions, some took a humorous way and some a more serious way. For ours we looked at what the sign actually needed to communicate to drivers. That they need to be aware of people less able to cross the road. This needn’t be directly linked to elderly people and so we removed them from our sign. Then, concentrating on the reasons why people might be slower at crossing the road (impared sight and mobility) we devised two simple and recognisable icons to represent this.

The opening of the exhibition was a great success and you can read articles from the Telegraph and YCN and see the full list of entries here


YCN Feature


YCN have writen a fantastic article on our collaboration with Alec Doherty on some new illustrations for Byron High Street Kensignton.

Read it here


We Won!


For our work with Byron and a host of amazing illustrators we were Bar winners at the YCN Professional Awards for Illustration.

You can read an article about the awards here


The Heart Index


The Heart Index, a not for profit design compendium, showcasing a collection of ‘hearts’ interpreted by various designers, including us!

For our submission we looked at the average heart rates  of different animals from the great blue whale whose heart the size of a car beats only 8 times a minute, to a rabbit whose heart races at 200 beats per minute. Each of the lines represents 60 seconds, being 60mm long.

All proceeds went to Heart Research UK.

To read more about the book, and see some of the other submissions visit the website here


Colour Book


For a book celebrating print and the art of colour matching we were asked to pick our favourite colour combinations. After much deliberation here is our favourite, or one of them at least.

For a copy of the book contact Opal.


64 GB


Very pleased to have our work featured in 64GB a book profiling 64 Great British designers considered to be at the forefront of their field.

What a compliment! We were featured because of our work for Simone Handbag Museum, which you can take a closer look at here

The book published by Victionary includes some great work giving an overview of the graphic design industry today. You can buy it here, and we thoroughly recommend you do!