Caterina Bianchini Studio is one that’s made a name for itself with bold, dynamic typography and unfettered use of colour. Its recent clients include the V&A, Reebok and Nike, for whom its produced aptly contemporary campaigns. The studio’s most recent venture, however, sees it taking on the visual identity for, get ready, the world’s first-ever conveyer belt cheese restaurant. And, with a concept so out of the ordinary, the studio’s response is equally surprising.
The studio was already working with the restaurant’s founders, Tayler and Mathew Carver across a few of their new ventures which are still in progress when it was asked to take on Pick & Cheese. “We couldn’t resist when we heard about the restaurant’s concept, with the focus of bringing the conveyor belt into a completely new cuisine and the restaurant being the first of its kind in the world,” explains the studio’s founder Caterina.
Focussing around a central character, a dog called Bert, the identity is predominantly led by an illustration of him in various absurd situations. Stylistically, the drawings are janky to say the least, comprised of fine lines in conjunction with a serif typeface. This combination creates an aesthetic which turns the potential complexity of the restaurant into something accessible.
Caterina recalls the conception of Bert: “We wanted to create an identity that wasn’t too serious. We thought about the contrast of having a dog – who are commonly known to be lactose intolerant – as the main mascot of the restaurant. So we created Bert, the conveyor of cheese, well educated, witty and really into cheese who believes the common fact that dogs are lactose intolerant was created by humans so they had more cheese for themselves.” This idea also creates a refreshing contrast to the current design landscape in hospitality which can often take itself too seriously, leaving little room for playfulness or fun.
On the aesthetic of the identity, Caterina continues: “Honestly, we wanted the whole thing to feel a bit shit. Not perfect, pretty bad, napkin sketch, style illustrations. The animations also showcase this style, being super simple and animated to deliberately feel a bit rough around the edges – think animation on old windows style. We felt this aesthetic was key to bringing the whole identity to life – it isn’t supposed to be some illustrative marvel, it is supposed to feel stupid and fun but intellectual through its content.” These “rough around the edges” illustrations, when paired with the serif across the menu capture the fact that “Tayler and Mathew really know what they are doing. The wines are chosen very specifically by a wine merchant, they have a head cheesemonger on-site and the whole menu was pieced together with great care and a specialist vision.”
It’s not just on the pitch for Pick & Cheese that the studio opted for this kind of unexpected design; it’s actually something that forms a large part of its practice, allowing the team to have fun with every project. “We are all well versed in the graphic design rule book, typography and grid systems but my idea is that as long as you know the rules you can then break them,” Caterina says. “We push the boundaries of our client’s trust by showing them a wildcard each time we present and we also just want to make design a little less serious, make people smile and interact with brands on a more human and genuine level.”
When it comes to the design of a conveyer belt cheese restaurant, this kind of imperfection means that no one, in terms of an audience, is disregarded. For those who know nothing about typography, or even cheese and wine, the restaurant has a welcoming atmosphere. It lets you know that this place isn’t going to take itself too seriously, or look down on you for a lack of knowledge about what it’s serving. It is a restaurant which serves cheese on a conveyer belt after all.
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