OMSE’s identity for Peddlers Gin Co. combines the charm of sign-writing with functional expectation
Shanghai-born and bred, Peddlers Gin Co. excitingly continues both the legacies of secret societies in its concept and the legacy of sign-writing in its refined yet vivacious aesthetic, elegantly commanded by OMSE. A labour of love taking place over the course of three years, the London-based design studio were closely involved in the entire production, from its apothecary-esque glassware with its unique ringed shoulder, to the antique key and wax sealed invitation made for the product’s launch. Sending these invitations to hundreds of bartenders, Peddlers returned a week later with a limited-edition mahjong box smuggling Peddlers within the box’s secret compartment, only to be revealed if the code was correctly uncovered.
In conversation with James Kape, OMSE’s Founder and Director, he explains “the typeface is an entirely bespoke one that we created with Family Type three years ago,” finding an abundance of inspiration in the sign-writing of early 20th Century China. “We actually hand-painted the letters on A3 sheets of paper first, then later digitised them one by one in Glyphs,” Kape remarks, noting that the primary typographic difficulty was the balancing act between English and Chinese text. Using the Chinese script in equal significance to the English text, acting as a similarly functional element rather than an appropriating decorative feature, Kape tells us that the disparity between the length each respective text meant “layouts often felt unbalanced when they included translations for both languages.”
Supporting their custom typeface, whose structure conveys a peerless harmony between character and sophistication, is Noto Sans and German Typewriter; originally designed by Luke Woodhouse prior to further development, refinement and publishing by Family Type under the new name ‘Type Type’. Similarly conveying a refinement and humour akin to Peddlers’ custom type, the supportive pair have enough personality and interest to be striking in their own right whilst not detracting attention and over-complicating the brand’s aesthetic.
Recalling the extraordinary length the project took to reach fruition, Kape explains that the duration of the project came from taking the time to truly cement Peddlers’ tale, rather than simply the brand’s aesthetics. “We completed the initial branding work very early on, however the key aspect of the brand was the Peddlers story,” he recalls, noting that the touchpoints of the brand, such as the bottle and the trike, are what is responsible for conveying this rather than the visual system they designed.
“Following the initial brand design process,” Kape adds, “Peddlers had planned to create the custom bottle immediately,” however, hit a roadblock when having difficulty with their first supplier. “It was critical the bottle not only had a distinctive look and feel, but was also sturdy, functional and fit for all environments,” Kape explains, having designed multiple iterations across their second year into the design process, where they focused on testing the bottle within the bartending community specifically. Eventually finding their suppliers in their third year, and following some COVID related delays, Peddlers’ gin finally launched.
“The brief was also a challenging one,” Kape explains, “in that the brand was inspired by Shanghai’s street culture and the spirit of peddling, but also needed to feel premium and relevant to a modern audience.” Resulting in a product intricately optimised for both a local and international audience, masterfully striking a balance between modernity, tradition and expectation, OMSE’s work is more than appropriate to christen China’s first gin – setting a high benchmark for those to follow.