Davy Denduyver on his “no nonsense” typographic branding for Onslow restaurant
The project for new Bruges-based eatery Onslow balances a bubbly handwritten wordmark with two of the most commonly used fonts, Helvetica and Times New Roman.
- Olivia Hingley
- 21 August 2023
Davy Denduyver is a designer who loves nothing more than working on local projects. So when he had the chance to create the branding for a new restaurant in his city of Bruges, he jumped at the opportunity. Through initial meetings with the couple who would be running the new eatery, it became clear that they all agreed on prioritising a “straight forward, no nonsense” creative approach and avoiding becoming another “concept” restaurant. Onslow was to be located in an old Belgian pub, and they wanted to maintain the comfortable feeling – “good food with good drinks, a cosy atmosphere and walk-ins as much as possible,” Davy says.
While the initial round of ideas looked very similar to the final result, they also featured an illustrative element; the couple who were opening the restaurant really wanted a “mascot of sorts”. But, in line with the no-nonsense approach, Davy convinced them a strictly typographic approach would suit. And so, Davy persuaded a type-heavy look, one that juxtaposed more classic fonts with a more modern wordmark.
This penchant for visual contradiction is one that defines Davy’s projects. Rather than deeming himself to have a clear “style” (instead preferring to adapt to each client’s project), he defines his work by his juxtaposing approach – “placing things where they don’t belong”. This is inspired by Davy’s musical interests in hip hop and hardcore, and the mixtape covers and graphic design that accompanied groups like the ‘youth crew’ and ‘straight edge’ subcultures in the early 2000s.
When deciding on the fonts he wanted to use throughout the project, Davy avoided looking too much at what other restaurants were doing, sticking to the straightforward approach. “I thought it would be funny to work with those classic fonts for a restaurant that didn’t want to be a classic restaurant at all,” Davy says. But, playing with width and kerning, Davy says that the choices came to something “nostalgic, warm and refreshing”, something new to the restaurant scene in Belgium.
Despite consciously opting for the heavy typographic identity, Davy was well aware that the wordmark needed to have a “graphic” element to it – “it had to clash strongly with what we had”, he says. Davy landed on a handwritten word mark that had an organic and welcoming feel to it. Realised both in an outline form and filled it, its shifting and changing use in motion gives the wordmark an energetic feel. All of these elements are then brought together with warm photography of the eatery; the chefs in the kitchen, a vast array of food on the table and people eating, drinking and socialising.
For Davy, creating work for a restaurant has multiple benefits. “In this day and age it feels more and more special to do work that has so many physical deliverables,” he says, “and eating at a great restaurant that’s drowned in your own work also feels very special.” What’s more, the Onslow project is how it challenges preconceptions of Bruges and its eating establishments. Often typecast as “boring” and “too traditional”, the recent success of Onslow proves there to be space on the market for something fresh, new and (of course) a little juxtaposing.
GalleryDavy Denduyver: Onslow (Copyright © Davy Denduyver, 2023)
Davy Denduyver: Onslow (Copyright © Davy Denduyver, 2023)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.