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Honeycomb Design + Build • Resa Gray

“I always like to start with the story,” said Resa Gray, partner at Honeycomb Design + Build, a collaborative group of design and construction professionals operating out of Winchester, Massachusetts. And Resa was handed one of her favorite stories to date in 2012 when hired to design Cakeology, a brick and mortar shop for Cupcake Wars winner Victoria Donnelly.

Located in Downtown Crossing in the heart of Boston, Victoria had found a space that was just under 700 square feet. Though small, it needed to serve as a place to bake, sell, and eat delicious cupcakes. These types of boutique commercial interiors are fun projects for Resa because they allow her to establish a real relationship with the client. The better she knows them, the better she can design a space that works for them and reflects their personality.

Where does it all begin?

Resa begins projects by getting to know the story behind the client; or, in this case, business. How was a company launched, and who is the person behind the business? In the case of Cakeology, Resa didn’t just ask Victoria what she wanted the space to look like; she asked her how she wanted people to feel when they were inside. Since the space was as much about the baking, how did Victoria want to feel when she was working? She also asked about other bakeries or restaurants that Victoria loved. When she gave Resa her business card, it was clear she had a very well-branded business. She was ready to grow it further.

After their initial meeting, Resa began researching. As much as possible, that research was done in-person to experience fully the places Victoria loved. (Bonus: sampling lots of delicious desserts!) Inspired by her research, Resa knew the space needed to be whimsical and fun, because desserts are fun, and so is Victoria! Using the colors of Victoria’s branding as a starting off point, Resa chose materials and finishes that would tell a story about dessert and baking.

Early on in the design process, Resa brought Victoria a sample for an unusual new floor material. It was a wood floor with a hot pink, iridescent wash. It felt like icing on a cake. When Victoria was excited about it, Resa knew she would be adventurous with her choices. From there, Resa chose other materials working off that story of sweets. There was a wainscoting made with chicken wire reminiscent of a pie safe, wallpaper with a swirly pattern that felt like cake decorations, and marble for the counter with a taffy ribbon-like linear design.

Cakeology interior, Designed while at Nelson, photo by Greg Premru

What comes next?

Furnishings in the space were few, due to its small size, so Resa could get creative with choices. She found a consumer ready credenza for trash that she customized with wallpaper and fixtures to make it unique and connect intimately to the space. Pendant lights reminiscent of cupcake liners were installed in the dining area. All these pieces needed to nod to sweets and desserts without being too literal. She wanted the space to be more immersive, rather than feel like a theme park or cartoon.

Throughout a project, a designer develops a relationship with a space. When it’s a public space, it’s extra special. You can share your work with family and friends and support an entrepreneur’s business at the same time. Yet, the best part of this project for Resa was making a friend. Working closely on this project, Victoria and Resa developed a friendship that is still strong today, even though each has moved on in their careers. Victoria has since closed Cakeology’s brick and mortar location, and Resa has left the corporate design world and co-founded Honeycomb Design + Build to focus on residential and boutique commercial projects. Yet, the project still holds sweet memories of a creative and delicious project.

Thank you to Resa for sharing this project with us!

Did you enjoy this interview? Be sure to check out others in our designer spotlight series.

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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