another design describes themselves as a trans-media visual design team that challenges traditional thinking and expands design language boundaries. Located in Guangzhou, they specialize in cross-cultural and business design strategies creating solutions that balance cultural and commercial aspects.
A recent project they released is for LAI HUI Living, a new Cantonese restaurant under the brand of Laihui. They created a brand visual system that utilizes encircling typography situated around differently shaped plates. They say that this represents “sitting around the table and eating together with the same plate,” giving a sense of community to the branding. For me, the plates end up looking like gemstones, giving the brand a very luxe feeling while still having a very approachable essence. The concept is so simple, yet when you see it in all it’s applications, it all comes together in such a nice way.
Vincent Vrints and Naomi Kolsteren are the partners behind Antwerp-based design studio, Vrints-Kolsteren, working across creative direction, photography and graphic design. I found a project of their’s that I really liked, some branding work for the Doel Festival, which takes place in what I believe is sort of a “ghost town” in Belgium. The festival works together with local entrepreneurs and supports the current inhabitants and redevelopment of Doel by donating a percentage of each purchased ticket into a support fund, specifically set up for that purpose. We love projects that give back to a community.
The work itself is fluid and dynamic, creating a visual identity which evolves with every edition, and references the shiny metal perforated plates covering up the windows and doors of houses, as well as the the washed off graffiti and faded signage. I love the mood this identity has. It’s so messy and captivating and beautiful all at the same time. The way they play with the legibility of the wordmark is a really nice touch, and the color palette they’re using (which is kind of all the colors tbh) feels very contemporary. Overall, really excellent work.
A+ is the studio of Graham Bradley, who describes the practice as “a design and technology studio that creates type.” And as it turns out, they’re one of my favorite studios, I just didn’t realize it. So there’s this restaurant called Bell’s located in Los Alamos, a small town in the middle-ish of California’s, roughly 2.5 hours north of Los Angeles. Owned by Daisy and Greg Ryan, Bell’s holds. special place in my heart because the food, service, and experience of eating there, are all incredibly thoughtful. A small but important aspect of said experience, is the branding, which is where A+ comes in.
The look and feel of Bell’s branding is French by way of California (which is also how I would describe the food). A+ created a bespoke typeface, charmingly named Henri, as well as a number of custom logos, a flexible menu system that can accommodate new items, as well as some cutie illustrations that bring the brand some extra personality. It all feels haphazard in the best way, like an eclectic assortment of items you’d find at a French brocante.
A+ also ended up working on Daisy and Greg’s other restaurant Bar Le Côte, a seafood tavern in Los Olivos that they opened along with co-owner and executive chef Brad Matthews. It’s like the eclectic, kinda zany cousin of Bell’s, and the vibe of the interiors and the branding help to communicate that.
The type work here astounds me, especially as A+ was able to create a dynamic typeface that can also be reorganized into a “wordmark built from geometric, Art Deco letterforms, stacked together like a set of blocks.” I hadn’t seen this animation until I found A+ and it’s so remarkable to see all the letters come together so nicely like that.
Gretel may have pulled off one of the strongest brand identity redesigns of the year. They have managed to Mountain Hardwear, a mid-90’s granola-feeling outdoors brand, and made it feel like a cutting edge tech outerwear company, all without losing it’s primary identity. This is no small feat. Gretel worked closely with Mountain Hardwear to create an all-encompassing brand identity that captures the perfect balance between being wild and wise.
Let’s start with the logo and typeface they created. It’s incredible to me that they were able to keep the look and feel of the original logo, that sort of clunky yet charming 90s energy, without it feeling off or wrong. They then worked with SuperContinente to develop a typeface inspired by “hard outside with a soft interior, which was a reoccurring theme in wood type from the late 1800s.” Because of course! And thanks to an expanded color palette, the brand now feels bold, tough, and adventurous, like it could tackle anything, which is the point.
There’s a true sense that the team at Gretel had so much fun working on this project, and that the folks at Mountain Hardwear truly trusted them. The rebrand is totally comprehensive, from soup to nuts (get it?) and there doesn’t seem to be any detail that wasn’t considered.
I feel like most creatives, like a moth to the flame, are intrinsically interested in certain things. For example, whether or not you eat them, you probably think mushrooms are kinda’ cool. They come in interesting shapes, wild colors, can look both cute and horrifying, they’re incredibly versatile. This is why I believe I was immediately entranced by this mark by Luca Devinu for Anastasia Kristensen new album, Cordyceps Disco.
It’s wild how he was able to combine the essence of like a Swedish/Nordic black metal band vibe and marry it with the cute little mushrooms. It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before, and I love it.
“Comprised of a constantly shifting set of elements, the visual language was born from free-form image-making and experimentation. Incorporating graphic and hand-drawn illustrated elements, as well as video and portrait photography, the brand presents a subtle yet crafted visual landscape that celebrates intimacy, texture, and feel.”
For me what works so well about the branding is how authentic everything feels. There’s so many small details, like hand-drawn elements, tooth and texture on the typography, paper and print elements that give a sense of tactility. It’s all very quirky and charming with a bit of refinement, and that duality definitely works to catch my eye.
Rainer Schneider, a contemporary restaurant reinventing German cuisine, recently received a fresh looking brand identity from the folks at Hyperfocus. They decided on an analogue aesthetic for the photos, sprinkled in some fun copywriting, and embraced a lo-fi design approach, emphasizing the values of sharing and new culinary adventures. The visual identity they created is raw, sincere, and straightforward, evoking a sense of familiarity and timelessness. I’m such a fan of type-driven branding and this hits the mark for me. A bold type pairing, pared back color palette, it never goes wrong.
The thing about Barcelona is there’s always something new popping up. It’s that energy that makes it feel like Los Angeles to me, only on a smaller scale that’s much easier to explore. Take for example this new visual identity from Hey Studio (probably the best design studio in the city) for Casa Montjüic, a multi-hyphenate space for creatives containing three different areas: a multi-purpose theater capable of hosting cinema screenings, plays, and intimate concerts; a music venue; and a restaurant featuring a seasonal menu and exquisite wines.
Hey Studio took inspiration from the ever-changing billboards of 19th century cinemas and music venues to match the energy of the unconventional culture. The result is a branding experience that’s bursting with life, both in the physical and digital worlds, with a vibrant color palette which brings the visual language into the 21st century.
Love a flexible identity system that can do a lot of things with ease. And this color palette is super fun, making the space feel so contemporary. Huerco S. is playing a set on Sunday and Kyle and I just bought tickets, stoked to check out the space and go drink some natty wine 🥂
It’s almost comical how mainstream brand redesigns are at this point. Being in any creative field, you’ve experienced random folks having an opinion on your work. The nosy executive, the random PA, or in this case, the amateur home chef. The New York Times, or more specifically, journalist and cookbook author Marnie Hanel, has decided to wade into the murky waters of branding, asking, What Happened to Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt?
To summarize the piece, Diamond Crystal hired Enlisted Design to work on a fresh look for the brand, as well as create smaller boxes for home chefs (it was previously only sold in very large, 3 lb. boxes). And ultimately, the piece tries to say that things shouldn’t change. That because Diamond Crystal is in some TV shows like The Bear, Ina Garten swears by it, and that it was used in the (toxic and abusive) Bon Appétit test kitchen years ago, it is somehow sacrilegious for the outdate design of the box to change.
Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one. Over the years, I’ve learned that everyone is entitled to their opinions, they don’t affect me or hurt my feelings. It does bother me though when there’s a lack of understanding on how branding, marketing, and capitalism connect in our modern world. It clearly states that Diamond Crystal “aims to increase the annual revenue … from $3 million to $50 million.” It cannot grow 16x with that ugly, old, 3 lb. box that was hard to find in most grocery stores. This is primarily, a business decision, a growth strategy, that happens to include a redesign.
Speaking to the design itself, it’s nice! In the article’s byline, it’s described as “minimalist branding.” Sure, it’s simple, but minimal it is not, with bold, typography that bring an interesting bit of personality. The color palette is almost a direct opposite of Morton Iodized Salt, probably the best known brand of salt in the U.S., and distinctly different from the green and white color palette of the other major flakey salt brand, Maldon. Is the design following some rather well-worn trends? Sure, though I’ll assume that most consumers of salt wouldn’t be aware of that, only us design nerds. Some of the comments in the article stated, essentially, that the new design will “blend in with all the other salts on the shelf.” From my point of view, that is not the case here.
I give props to Enlisted Design for their great work, andI totally feel for them right now. The amount of weird spam they’re going to get from this clickbait-ridden article is going to suck. Context and insight is important.
Bruch created custom-made lettering and type design that aims to combine contrasting elements such as angled and round, hard and soft, to showcase the creative possibilities of working with wood. The typefaces are based on the simplified form of a wooden board, creating a cohesive and intelligent approach to the brand. This design also aligns with the company’s claim that “Everything is built on wood.” Further, the brand is enhanced by warm and atmospheric imagery that really gives it a modern and timeless feeling.
For me, I’m so impressed with how effective the type is with such a simple concept. The way the joints of the letters connect really gives that feeling of wooden boards coming together, and they even remind me of the curves of the iconic Thonet 214 chair. The color palette is also really doing it for me, love the muted greens and golden amber tones paired together. One of my favorite branding projects of the year, for sure.
Solen, which is the Swedish word for “sun”, is also recently opened restaurant in Stockholm from chefs Adam Dahlberg and Albin Wessman. Inspired by sun drenched locales like Tel Aviv, Naples, and Oaxaca, with a menu that features a delicious looking mix of dishes from those cities.
To help bring the space to life, Solen tapped designer Daniel Carlsten to create a visual identity. Leaning into bold, sun-inspired colors and a mid-century minimalism, it all feels timeless, like the restaurant has been around for decades, a touchstone of the neighborhood. I especially love the custom mobile, which was crafted by Ray Atelier. If you’re in Stockholm, stop by for a visit and let me know how it is.
I think it’s so special when someone is able to develop a brand identity that looks how something would feel. Case in point, this season’s look and feel for the Théâtre des Salins developed by Image Format. Now, these days, gradients are everywhere, it’s literally impossible to avoid them at this point. Though in this case I love what Image Format has done, giving the impression of time and seasons shifting, or that’s how it reads to me personally. And the typeface they’re using, Baste, has such an eclectic look, like a silly, rounded monospace, which feels retro and quite contemporary.