Christopher Doyle & Co. represent music, plants, art and tea in their identity for Steep St.
In the Blue Mountains of Sydney lies a concept space called Steep St., with a focus on the connection between art, tea, plants and music. Part retail store, part artist installation, Steep St. customers are encouraged to interact with biometric sensors and video projectors which, through synthesisers, convert electrical impulses into sound and visuals. Along the way, they can buy plants, engage with art, attend musical events and drink loose-leaf tea.
Sydney-based design studio Christopher Doyle & Co. were approached to brand the space with the task to succinctly and cohesively convey its extensive concept as well as promote the artist practice of the space’s owner. The result of their labours is a fun, flexible identity that not only literally reflects the core pillars of what Steep St. offers, but thematically does so too – having developed a brand that feels organic, lively and adaptable to continually evolving contents and events of the space. Due to the oddity of the space and the niche “smallness of the brand,” Christopher Doyle explains that “it gave us permission to be a bit weirder with it.”
Beginning with the wordmark, Christopher Doyle & Co. looked to represent the specific notion of ‘symbiosis and connection,’ crafting a modular system which conceptually references these latter ideas and visually illustrates the hills of the Blue Mountain region that the space resides, as well as the steeping process of loose-leaf tea. “Given the space and the brand is so experimental,” Doyle tells us, “we really just wanted to use typefaces we hadn’t used before and also aim for more unusual combinations than we normally use.” This led to the use of La Nord in the wordmark, providing a strong structural core, paired with Recife and Messina Sans throughout the multiple applications of the identity. The clash of these typefaces is also mirrored in their colour choices, where the artistic nature of the space is expressed through experimenting with combinations of bold contradictory colours.
This wordmark is then presented alongside a series of geometric icons Christopher Doyle & Co. produced to represent Steep St.’s offerings of music, plants, art and tea. “We loved it right away because we felt it cleverly did a few things,” Doyle explains, discussing how the icons can be intelligently applied on a smaller scale or simplified accordingly alongside the wordmark. “The wordmark was actually an element from a separate concept,” he adds, “but (the client) loved it and asked if we could rework the concept to include it so we figured it out.”
La Nord by Raoul Gottschling