Toben tie type, history and legacy together in Gowings’ colourful and playful identity system
Paying homage to the rich cultural context and storied history of the building it occupies, New South Wales-based studio Toben’s vibrant identity for bar, grill and restaurant Gowings exists within the eclectic visual middle ground between past and present. A contrasting to-and-fro, such as the Sydney-based restaurant’s interplay between traditional and NYC-style Italian cuisine, becomes the through-line across the brand, balancing binary states through fluid typography and colour.
“The idea for the colour palette was to pick up the colours that are present in the interior,” Creative Director Thorsten Kulp tells us, “but pair them with an additional colour palette to create more unique combinations,” and subsequently eye-catching, purposefully non-complementary hues. “The colour combinations were then applied at liberty,” Kulp adds, “and there is no system behind their application,” allowing Gowings’ identity to grow as the establishment does.
Utilising Toben’s wild colour combinations, the studios choice of typefaces is similarly vivid, opting for Recoleta from Latinotype, AlfaType’s Futura Passata, Analo Grotesk from Due Studio and Bold Decisions’ Glossy Display as Gowing’s assorted squad. “These four typefaces were chosen as they tie in with the history of the building,” Kulp details, offering a window into the restaurant’s new offering.
“They represent the many faces of Gowings,” he adds, noting Analo Grotesk’s embodiment of Gowings origins as a classic drapery business, explaining, “it reminded us of classical sewing machine stitching, but also had a modern and digital feel,” in contrast to Glossy Display’s more contemporary tone. “Glossy Display nods to Gowings’ evolution from drapery business to high-end department store,” Kulp contextualises, recalling the building’s previous reputation as a high-fashion hotspot.
“Futura Passata leans itself to classic advertising posters of Italy in the ’60s and ’70s,” he continues, “and is a nod to the Italian-inspired dishes,” introducing an amenable vibe, matched in Recoleta’s approachable construction. “It’s a hint to the great service that Gowings wanted to provide to its customers,” he suggests, “a high-end, fun and non-pretentious offering, with outstanding service.” Implemented side by side throughout, the varied typographic choices appear confident and collected across their application, becoming instrumental elements of the adaptable type-led system.
Gowings’ wordmark, however, strikes a less abstract mood, seeming more reserved in juxtaposition. Discussing the decision, Kulp explains, “to us, the character of the brand is brought to life through the font treatment, copy and colours,” utilising the latter as the heroic element of the brand. “Additionally, in our experience, the visual identity rarely makes it into the marketing avenues of a food and beverage outlet,” he recalls, “in which case it would be beneficial to push the brand name out,” suggesting that marketing teams generally “push” imagery of interiors and food. “The visual identity is, therefore, the most prominent feature used in the venue,” Kulp makes clear, “this is where we wanted to dial up the other brand assets,” hoping to reveal the unique experience of the establishment, concluding, “after all, they know that they are at Gowings.”