25AH’s tactile identity for Italiano shapes a satisfying world for the restaurant to inhabit
“Authenticity was a keyword from the start,” Designer Joakim Eriksson tells us, “and it was important for both us and the client that the restaurant was true to its origins,” discussing the welcoming identity for family-owned Italian restaurant Italiano, created by Stockholm-based multidisciplinary design agency 25AH. “In our research, we identified an expression relatively unique to Italy,” he continues, noting the defining inspiration behind the identity: modernist shops and wayfinding signs. “It is also an expression that is still largely present in several international Italian brands,” he adds, “this gave us something that took us a step further away from the restaurant’s previous, more classical identity without losing the feel of Italy.”
As a result, Italiano’s brand is innately physical, manifesting in satisfying, tactile touchpoints, from neon signage and embossed menus to bespoke mosaic tiling. This physicality not only references the pre-digital nature of its inspirations but dramatically contributes to shaping a unique world for the brand to inhabit – one that embraces the past, shaped by a contemporary manipulation.
Italiano’s primary expression of its inspirations arrives typographically, through a customised cut of Buzz from ECAL and Klim’s Founders Grotesk as the typefaces of choice. “We wanted the logo to be a natural part of Stockholm’s restaurant world,” Eriksson explains, “alluding to our previous references in a modern way by being confident and inviting at the same time.”
Through this combination of typefaces, Eriksson details how the “well-drawn and unobtrusive” construction of Founders Grotesk provides functionality and the capability to transform. “It has the flexibility to be stretched and adapted in different ways,” Eriksson notes, “without straying too far from its origins.” Meanwhile, Buzz’s characterful, accessible letterforms make for a striking wordmark and headline typeface, carving an amenable and embracing tone with a touch of humour. Together, the two typefaces and multiple type treatments make for a striking modernist, yet somewhat subversive, expression of personality and expertise – a balance equally matched in the colour palette.
“The red hue is a development of Italiano’s previous primary colour,” Eriksson recalls, noting the evolution towards a deeper red as opposed to the original orange. “The colour red is strongly associated with Italy,” he continues, “and recurs among several international Italian brands such as Piaggio, Lavazza, Fiat and others,” making it, in essence, an Italian classic. “The primary brand colours for Italiano are red, white, and black,” he details, “with an accent of dark green used sparingly to bring in all the Italian national colours.”
The final personable part of the brand comes courtesy of Edinburgh-based illustrator Marcus Oakley, who provided Italiano with whimsical (and literal) character. “We saw something in his way of illustrating that reminded us of old engravings you can see on buildings around Italy,” Eriksson recalls, “which in itself had a natural connection to the typographic treatment.” Sitting alongside the type, Oakley’s charming illustrations make for an ownable, cohesive graphic component that embodies the personable and physical tone of the restaurant. “We decided it was important to give the experience authenticity and character through variety,” Eriksson concludes, “to not be perceived as too ‘branded’ or corporate.”