SUPERFANTASTIC’s clean identity for design boutique Avenue Road is both abstract and practical
“The brand name immediately feels like it’s describing a single location, and yet the brand exists in many locations,” SUPERFANTASTIC’s Co-founder Mark Neil Balson tells us, contextualising the Torontonian studio’s identity for Avenue Road – a design boutique for art, furniture, objects and architectural creations, located across North America. “None of them are on a road named Avenue,” Balson continues, “and for this reason, they’ve always had an abstract map as their symbol,” however, they found that it rarely worked when combined with a wordmark due to its more textural nature.
“Our goal was to develop a new mark that would not conform to easy use,” Balson suggests, “and by design, would command a new level of care and reverence,” setting the elevated, intriguing tone of the complete identity. “We also wanted it to be much more ambiguous, which in turn would convey a sophisticated confidence,” he remarks, mirroring the tone of Avenue Road’s name while introducing a sense of interpretation and interest from the get-go.
The wordmark is typeset in Grilli Type’s GT Ultra, and has been modified for optimisation across all sizes. “One of the primary ways we brought depth to all components was to set a clear hierarchy and role for each,” Balson details, “and the logotype needed to do a lot of the heavy lifting by conveying a sturdy, almost handsome, timelessness.”
“We used ES Allianz from Extraset throughout the rest of the brand,” Balson notes, discussing the supporting type. “Its modern good looks, with its slightly tall proportions, function as connective tissue,” bringing together the abstract and pragmatic elements of the identity.
“With such a lyrical brand mark and semi-classical logotype,” he suggests, the overall look required breathing room via a kind of modernity that wasn’t trying too hard,” achieving as much through a modular approach to layout, and a studious approach to colour. “Avenue Road has always used blue as its primary colour, and so we saw no need to change that,” Balson tells us, “we did, however, use the same thinking for the palette as we had for all other components,” whereby the decision and choice were interrogated and reconsidered.
“We pushed the primary colour to a dark reflex blue,” he recalls, translating a thoughtfulness and materiality that the previous brand lacked. “We formalised its use by reserving it only for floods and backgrounds,” never implementing it across brand elements. “The remaining palette tells a supporting textural story,” Balson concludes, “with a set of neutrals that evoke concrete, porcelain, a velvety off-black and off-white.”