&Walsh, the creative agency set up by Jessica Walsh, has released an identity for the New York venture of Cairo-based restaurant, Zooba. Enlisting the design agency, which only announced its formation, in July of this year, Zooba’s branding is created with the aim “to resonate with a NYC audience,” says Jessica, “while celebrating Egypt”.
Working closely with Zooba’s own creative team based in Cairo – which Jessica notes was the “key to success” – the project began with a trip to the Egyptian capital where the collaboration kicked off proceedings by tasting food, meeting the Zooba team and learning more about the culture, particularly through &Walsh’s collaboration with Chris Khalifa, Adam Mourad and Omar Mobarek. “While in Cairo we walked the streets together with the Zooba team, taking hundreds of photos, discussing ideas and possibilities,” Jessica tells It’s Nice That.
Inspired “by the beauty on the streets of Cairo”, a key element Jessica points out as an influence is the city’s vast combination of visuals: “posters would be put up on top of hand painted type or illustrated murals, next to a shop with a mix and matched geometric tiles, next to a bright solid colour painted wall with a complementary colour rug,” she tells us. “While these visuals were not always purposefully coordinated, they combined together in a busy, but beautiful way. We wanted the branding to celebrate this.”
Typographically, Cairo’s “beauty and craftsmanship,” as Jessica describes, was additionally presented throughout the city, leading the &Walsh and Zooba team to commission Mohamed Mohamed, the painter of typographic details on many of the foul carts set up across Cairo. “The paintings were scanned and photographed, and used through the branding over the vector compositions. We loved the contrast of the organic paint strokes against the vector geometric patterns and borders,” she says, adding that: “I am always a big believer that when you admire someone’s work, you should commission them, versus imitating it.”
With all of these elements combined in the final result, Jessica describes &Walsh’s efforts as a representation of how “Zooba’s food is a unique modern twist on traditional Egyptian classics, and we wanted to do something similar with the branding.” Carefully piecing together references such as traditional patterns, tiles and graphics alongside layers of modern interpretations, Jessica sums up the project succinctly by adding: “Everything was inspired by the the visuals we saw in Egypt. The way it’s leathered together was inspired by the layering we saw in Cairo, though the final result is a style we think is ownable and unique to Zooba,” particularly in details such as its copywriting, directly inspired by the “down-to-earth” team at Zooba too. The final results can be seen across a wide range of ephemera, from menus to bags, staff announcements and uniforms instructing customers: “If you’re not making a mess, you’re not doing it right.”
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