Pladis, a world leader in the snack industry with household names such as McVities, Jacobs, Crawford and Godiva, has a long-standing relationship with Eden and recently came us with a fit-out requirement to redesign the Sensory Room at their national R & D facility. This is where members of the public and professional food tasters (what a job!) are brought into the facility to try new products before being approved and released.

Cue Eden, and our design team – We worked hard with Pladis’s own project team to go from brief discussions to providing fully interactive 3D walk-throughs of the refurbishment for approval. One of the main requirements for the fit-out was to have individual booths with variable coloured lighting to allow tasters to use all of their senses rather than tasting with their eyes!

Once approved, we had 12 weeks for the whole fit-out – to strip out the old, build bespoke units incorporating hatches and individual booths, create a dual-coloured lighting system, adapt and install new HVAC systems, all while the building was still in daily use. The project was completed a full week early, allowing Pladis to continue with its class-leading work.

But why the red lights? Colour analysis is a big thing for the food industry. Visual perception plays a big part in sales, so colour is key in helping manufacturers develop products that are appealing to the eye as well as the taste. We have certain colour perceptions – such as carrots being orange, despite originally being purple – although these can be subliminal. In the 1990s, a Pepsi Cola initiative to introduce a clear version of the drink failed as consumers couldn’t overcome the expectation of a brown liquid rather than transparent.

By using standard and red lighting, food colour perception and taste can analysed more effectively. Study participants stand at the individual booths at High Wycombe with a hatch and light system. Food can be passed through from the preparation room, and once tried and responses recorded the taster presses a button to trigger a green light in the preparation room and the next sample can then be provided to that taster.

Our fit-outs come in all shapes and sizes, no two are ever the same, but this one was definitely out of the ordinary.