DesignStudio and Wahaca have collaborated to create a separate brand for the Mexican food chain’s Shoreditch-based test kitchen, commissioning a host of brilliant illustration in a “vibrant homage to the Mexican market”.
11 years post opening but keen to continue experimenting with contemporary Mexican cuisine, Wahaca opened a test kitchen inspired by “the spirit of sharing with friends around a table,” DesignStudio explains. To interpret this into a visual language bringing together “raw utility and vibrancy” the restaurant chain collaborated with DesignStudio to create a graphic centrepiece for the dining experience, “the silhouette of the utilitarian taco tray creating a sold ‘W’ monogram,” to be rolled out across Wahaca’s channels online and in-store.
The visual identity includes a bespoke typeface, Oaxaca Irregular, designed to match “utility with quirks of market signage,” explains DesignStudio. Details fill the menus and printed collateral of the test kitchen’s London-based location, such as hand-written notations and secret menu items painted on the ceilings of the restaurant.
These little quirks are where illustration is introduced within the identity, commissioning Joe Kessler, Amanda Baeza, Brie Moreno and Bonnie Eichelberger. Tasked with creating “a world of fantastic and surprising illustrations, inspired by Mexico’s history of surrealism,” each of the illustrator’s drawings differ in style and subject. From tarot card-like loyalty cards and sweet drawings of sliced avocado and corn-on-the-cob, to painted Mezcal bottles, each of the illustration styles adds an extra narrative for the brand as you turn the pages of menus or look around the space.
“The idea of the test kitchen is all about reaffirming Wahaca as an experimental force in the world of food,” DesignStudio explains. Taking an experimental approach to this one-off visual identity represents this, helping to “rekindle the spirt and reason why Wahaca started, and remind people of how exciting Mexican dining is.”
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