Twenty years of Grain!

Madelyn and Christoph

Madelyn and Christoph

Who would have imagined that a design studio born in Notting Hill as Sunny Side Up Design on Friday, 22nd February 2002 would become a sustainability consultancy called Grain, with a team getting quite excited about a new kind of sunny side up twenty years later? Welcome to our own little birthday gift, the new 5.2 kW photo voltaic solar installation at our headquarters and home.

A year into our company’s life we renamed it Grain, with a multiplicity of meanings from a grain of wisdom, to a grain of sand that could prompt the creation of a beautiful pearl, to the grain of wood, one of our favourite materials. The one interpretation we have stuck with is of a grain growing into something much bigger like the entrepreneurial, forward-thinking organisations we work with.

A love for design and branding fuelled projects ranging from simple conceptual vases and beautiful packaging to stunning residential and commercial interiors, as well as branding work in luxury, lifestyle, travel, education, property, and technology.

Christoph Geppert founded Grain and his wife Madelyn Postman officially joined in 2010, after the couple had already been working together for many years through Grain as well as Madelyn’s design studios, Vivian Cipolla and Madomat.

Over the past two decades we have worked with some wonderful people: consultants, designers — with a special shout-out to Juli Ferguson and Daisy Klyhn — developers, and studio managers. Our team outings have included TEDxHousesOfParliament, a sleepover Christmas party at the Oakley Court Hotel, a dinner at the pitch-black restaurant Dans Le Noir (no photos from that one) and a play day with 3D printers in their very early days. For our 13th birthday, we celebrated the joy and pride of our work by visualising our beloved clients, their locations, sectors, duration of partnership and the size of our team with an infographic. Then came the big 15 and we went all-out with a big party at The Apartment at The Hoxton, Holborn.

For nearly three years, January 2018 to October 2020, Grain was merged with Leidar, an international advocacy, branding, and communications consultancy group with offices in Geneva, Brussels, Oslo, Dubai, and London where we worked with an amazing team under the leadership of Rolf Olson and clients including the World Health Organization, the Oak Foundation, and the Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation. The work for these organisations as well as sustainability work for the EFF Group strengthened our belief that sustainability is the only way to go.

We have been proud members of 1% for the Planet since 2008, giving 1% of our turnover to environmental charities, and also serve on its UK & Ireland Steering Committee. The naming and branding of a renewable, compostable plastic — Floreon — the creation of the community bank Spring Bank, the design of an electric motorbike for the Indian market — Wolfhound Motors — and developing Catwalk Club, a luxury handbag rental platform using the sharing economy model and reusable packaging have all been steady markers for our shift into sustainability.

In November 2020 we relaunched as Grain Sustainability, with the mission of helping businesses become champions for people and the planet. Amber Harrison and Mark Carlin joined the team, bringing their decades of experience to the table. It’s been go-go-go since then, and we’ve grown to include consultants Mary Pearson, Nitesh Magdani, Joanne Jong, and Yanjie Wang; B Leader Hannah Cox; designer and developer Nicola Louw; designers Tim Verbakel and Anne Roos Hosters; admin and marketing Rosie Wyatt; and junior associates Izzy Bull and Róisín O’Connor Flanagan. What a journey — without you this would not have been possible.

The start of 2022 saw Grain taking another huge step on our own sustainability journey by becoming a Certified B Corporation, using business as a force for good. An achievement we are incredibly proud of, which you can explore in our Impact Report.

In their book, The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac call the 2020s the critical decade to safeguard humanity. While we’re looking forward to the next twenty years, we’re also focusing on how much of a difference we can make in the here and now in order to protect our collective future.

We encourage you to join us by seeing what changes you can make today to create positive impacts.

And what is a big birthday without a big party? Please mark Friday, 25th March 2022 in your calendar for a lovely evening with old friends and new. Invitations to follow.

Update: the party at the Barbican Conservatory was fantastic. Photos are here and here!

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