Shanghai-based studio KauKau returns with a striking and multifaceted rebrand for Strong Noodle
The studio talks us through its latest project featuring a mesh of graphics, branding, animations and sound, for a Chongqing noodle restaurant in Shenzhen.
- 12 May 2021
- Ayla Angelos
- Reading Time
- 4 minutes
When we last heard from Shanghai-based KauKau in November last year, we learned of the studio’s steer towards motion design, brand identities, printing experiments and type design. Well, not too much has changed since then, as its founders – Kekfeng Lee and Zifei Li – are very much continuing to work in these fields. But one point of difference is that the studio has expanded, meaning there’s more room for collaboration and resources to work on a plethora of diverse projects. This includes the most recent identity for Strong Noodle, a rebranding project for the Chongqing noodle restaurant in Shenzhen.
Both Kekfeng and Zifei hail from backgrounds in design; Zifei more in the way of product, graphic and information design, while Kekfeng focused on graphic design and Kung Fu. “Different experiences enable us to think about the possibility of future work from an abstract perspective,” Zifei tells It’s Nice That. The pair formed the studio while Zifei was studying at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, while Kekfeng was working at Studio Dumbar as a senior graphic designer. The latter visited the university during Dutch Design Week and, naturally, they became friends, before “unexpectedly” meeting again in Beijing and setting up KauKau Shanghai three years ago.
Ever since, the pair have been going from strength to strength, adhering to an ethos of imagination and concept building. As such, their work is based on experimentation, and they never want to be pigeon holed to a specific style or niche. Rather, they want to evolve continuously, “without being defined by anything that can be described,” adds Zifei. “For good design, concept and visual style should blend together and complement each other. Fundamentally, the different concepts of each project determine how we use an image, graphic, or even sound as a means of conveying an idea or telling a story.”
A great example of this can be seen in the most recent identity for Strong Noodle, a tightly wound package of graphics, branding, animations, iconography and type. It’s an incredibly bold, repetitive and monochromatic display; certainly not your typical rebrand of a “very common” food in China. “Chongqing noodle is a kind of street food popular all over the country with a fame of lower price and spicy flavour,” Zifei says, adding a bit of context to the brief. “When Strong Noodle decided to become a chain brand, they put forward some requirements for our rebranding. They hoped to present the temperature of Chongqing family kitchen and the hot flavour of Chongqing cuisine with a friendly and lively way, and make the audience feel the magic temperament and spirit of the city, which is famous for its marvellous urban landscape and spicy hot pot.”
As for the visual details, the studio opted for a typeface named Kedai-Kedai, designed by friends at Huruf and inspired by vernacular signages in Malaysia. It was a fitting choice for this project, considering its playful and striking formation. It draws you in quickly, and gives a hint to the lively and flamboyant persona of the restaurant. “We believe it can perfectly respond to the brand spirit of Strong Noodle, which is characterised by bold, strong and street,” adds Zifei. Alongside the typeface, the team also designed a series of Chinese characters drawn from the English version of the Kedai-Kedai typeface. “Its Chinese name, Shu Chang Xiao Mian, has the similar pronunciation as Strong Noodle. After that, we custom-made a series of Chinese characters, and designed basic materials such as signs, menus, bowls, spoons.”
Then there’s the animation, composed using AI and Indesign, plus 3D animation software like Cinema 4D and After Effects. An unexpected twist, the team recorded the sounds of the noodle shop, capturing notes of people eating noodles and talking in Chongqing dialect. It blends succinctly with the rest of the identity, forming a sound meshing of typography, print materials, animation and noise. “The whole project became more and more three-dimensional,” says Zifei. “Our concept can be displayed in all aspects, which means the audience can get a deeper experience.”
It’s been a productive year for KauKau, and the team are constantly pushing out new and exciting projects of this kind – the type that demonstrate a flair for different techniques and new ways of approaching a brief. In the very near future, the studio plans to release its package design project for a well-known product brand, as well as a branding project for a boutique in Shanghai. Otherwise, you can expect an art exhibition update pretty soon, featuring animation, visuals and art book design composed in signature Kaukau fashion.
GalleryKauKau: Strong Noodle (Copyright © KauKau, 2021)
KauKau: Strong Noodle (Copyright © KauKau, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.