The rise of Modern Baker

Modern Baker, which began life in a 500sq ft café in Oxford in 2015, has just opened a brand new R&D facility to ramp up its development of products made with natural ingredients.

One dilemma for co-founders Leo Campbell and Melissa Sharp, when drawing up plans for the facility, was how to combine a head office with a baking kitchen.

“It boiled down to quite a simple thing with our architect, we worked on the same principle as a lot of biotech and life-science companies: that we integrate the kitchen or the lab with the work space,” says Campbell.

“In order to achieve that, we put a huge glass window between the two and elevated the work area, so there’s a sense of occasion when you look into the kitchen area.”

Staying loyal to the healthy focus of its brand, the co-founders were keen to embrace elements of ‘wellness’ in the architecture at the facility.

“Space, light and our location demonstrate this,” says Campbell, adding that the business was keen not to set up in what might be seen as an ‘elitist ghetto’.

“We have placed ourselves in an industrial estate surrounded by other real artisans of all trades and that feels good.”

Equipment used by Modern Baker includes an MHS bread slicer, a Ramalhos oven, a Brook dough brake and a Kingfisher cake mixer.

The fixtures and fittings are based on a Scandinavian-style look following visits by Sharp to Nordic countries. The co-founders worked with architect James Wyman who runs his own firm in Oxford.

“We’ve got a Modern Baker café and had to think about some similar aspects from the café and blend them into the R&D facility,” says Sharp. “Much of our research was done in a few Scandinavian cities; we went to visit bakeries and we loved their style and wanted to match it where possible.”

Campbell adds that the development of the facility was not just about style, but was about ethos too.

“In a lot of Nordic countries when you go to a restaurant and ask ‘how much organic food do you have on the menu?’ they chuckle and say ‘it’s all organic’,” he laughs. “There’s a very different approach to eating and healthy eating that appeals to us greatly.

“We wanted to reflect all that within the brand and the architecture.”

With the brand supplying products to Selfridges and Planet Organic, Campbell hopes to disrupt “a very established” food industry and aspires to influence the public health agenda.

“Things have gone very well so far. We’ve got off to a good start and it’s almost less what we would like to be and what we would like to happen – and that is to improve the quality of dietary carbohydrates.

Who: Leo Campbell and Melissa Sharp, co-founders of Modern Baker, set up a health-themed café in 2015 after Melissa adopted an alternative way of living when she recovered from breast cancer.

What: The launch of Modern Baker’s R&D facility on an industrial estate in Oxford

Where: 7 Station Field Industrial Estate, Oxford, OX5 1JD

When: February 2018

Why: “To disrupt a very established food industry.”

Head office and kitchen: “We worked on the same principles of a lot of biotech and life-science companies by integrating the kitchen or the lab with the work space.”

Sourdough starters: “Research shows sourdough addresses the vitally important issue of helping to improve gut health.”

Scandinavian: “Much of our research was done in Scandinavian cities. We loved their style and wanted to match it where possible.”

Architecture: “I think space, light and our location demonstrate this.”

Kit: “We have 18 pieces of equipment including an MHS bread slicer, a Ramalhos oven, a Brook dough brake and Kingfisher cake mixer.”

Logo: “We wanted our identity to echo a modern Nordic aesthetic, and we feel that, between the typeface, the colour palette and the shape of our icon, we have captured that.”

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