Tino Nyman’s identity for TeeMaa conveys the Helsinki-based tea room’s subtlety and sophistication
After finishing their academic studies in the early 2010s, Peng Luo and Xinyuan Sui decided to make their stay in Helsinki permanent after falling in love with the Nordic country. A decade later, the duo have founded TeaMaa, a boutique tea room that combines their adoration for Nordic culture with their interest in traditional Chinese tea practice. Looking to shape their unique story whilst conveying the delicacy and expertise of their practice, Helsinki neighbour and graphic designer Tino Nyman took to crafting TeeMaa’s visual identity – working in tandem with the development of the tea room’s interior design led by interior architecture office Yatofu. Partnering typographic subtlety with an understated approach to composition, the resulting graphic system embodies the quality and sophistication of TeeMaa; drawing on themes of organic forms, raw materials and space found within its interior.
This earthly sense of honesty and tactility is conveyed in the contrasting wordmark; which is primarily constructed from Boulevard LAB’s BL Arctic, with the tea room’s initial instead taking the form of Typefaces of The Temporary State’s Panama Italic. “It was also important to bring a delicate and humane tone of voice from the tea world into the logo’s visual appearance,” Nyman tells us, “without going too soft and cliche;” allowing the wordmark to stand out without straying too far away from the ambience of the tea room and surrounding identity system.
Typographically translating this ambience, Nyman opted for Schick Toikka’s Lateral and Bretagne’s Cucina as TeeMaa’s accompanying typefaces; elegantly pairing them with the wordmark. Discussing as much, Nyman explains, “I wanted the main typeface to be very clear and discreet, with small and fine details,” adding, “the Lateral font family met all of those properties,” balancing character, consistency and functionality. “I choose Cucina to highlight information and create a more personal tone of voice,” he recalls, noting its shared characteristics with the wordmark. “It’s elegant in a contemporary way,” Nyman adds, “where old-fashioned aesthetics have been modernised,” bringing with it a softness and unique detail.
Aiming to avoid any cliches associated with tea rooms, the soft colour palette and striking use of illustration seek to place TeeMaa in its own category. Not without reason, however, the colours in question come from the organisation and categorisation of TeeMaa’s tea; associating a colour with each of the nine tea types the shop stocks. “The colours have been chosen to support the tone of the voice of the brand, as well as to bring versatility to the identity,” Nyman recalls, “the colour tones from the palette can be used blatantly in a modern way, or alternatively to emphasise the harmonic and traditional side of the tea world,” he adds, utilising the calmer and more subdued shades in the palette. “The biggest challenge in choosing colours was creating a harmonious ensemble from such a diverse palette of all nine tea types,” Nyman tells us.
This balance of hues is aided by the addition of organic, minimalistic illustrations; whereby their earnest yet simplistic aesthetic complements the raw materials of the tea room’s interior, as well as the tea’s roasting techniques. “I wanted to bring different aspects of the tea and tea culture through illustrations,” Nyman concludes, highlighting the benefit of bringing an approachability and humanity to the identity – collaborating with illustrator Piia Emilia to achieve as much.
Swee Chong Wong