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Keefer Bar Print Design Takes Inspiration From Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Keefer Bar is a hospitality venue serving Asian-inspired cocktails and plates in Vancouver's Chinatown. They specialize in making the so-called apothecary cocktails that soothe the drinker’s ailments and balance out their mood.
The bar’s menu is a creation of One Design Agency. They wanted to make a visual and stylistic nod to Keefer Bar’s location and branding direction.
Since the brand celebrates the Chinese culture in its offerings inspired by its location, the Keefer Bar print design features centuries-old illustrations and materials inspired by the influential Chinese civilization.
Specifically, the cocktail and food pages are accompanied by the Chinese-style diagrams of a human body, denoting specific areas linked to overall wellbeing and good health.
These, along with authentic Chinese lettering, are concealed within the double-line frame, just like the list of cocktails, food and essences that a consumer can add to their drink to boost energy and clarity.
The Keefer Bar Proves That Attention To Detail Can Provide Design Authenticity
Probably the most defining quality of the Keefer Bar print design is the use of ancient illustration replicas and faded lettering - both in the traditional Chinese symbols and the menu’s actual content.
The human body illustrations and diagrams are particularly well-done, true to the style of traditional Chinese paintings. The pencil strokes, the shadowing, the implementation of pictograms all faithfully reproduce the hard-to-repeat flair of this particular period of art history.
The worn-out look makes the menu look more believable, considering its artistic and thematic direction. It is a well-thought-out move on the agency’s behalf since having the menu in mint condition would just not have the same appeal.
Vintage-Looking Materials In Keefer Bar’s Menu Further Implement The Design Concept
In order to fully mimic the Chinese vintage books, One Design Agency turned to materials like rice paper, Asian thread binding and faux leather.
Starting from the latter, the faux leather hardcover has a deliberately slightly old and weathered look. The grey color contributes to a very unassuming yet classy appearance. Even the inside of the cover has a very rash texture, which is a testament to the design agency’s attention to detail.
The rice paper is used on the menu’s pages. It was given a special treatment to also make it look older and slightly stained. The resulting different shades of white and grey make the pages appear slightly wrinkled.
The traditional Asian binding keeps the entire menu together and responds to the concept of authenticity the agency has set out to achieve.
Keefer Bar’s Western Typography Balances Legibility With Authenticity
Keefer Bar print design’s typography resembles the typewriter-style fonts that were dominant in the 1940s and 1950s publications.
In fact, the menu has two mutually similar fonts. The cover text is in all caps and is slightly wider than the serif typeface used in the menu’s inside pages.
The font used inside the menu – on pages where food and drinks are listed and described – is a narrower form of typewriter font, with more prominent “hooks” and curved ends. The food and drink categories are also in all caps, while the items themselves contain custom letters in smaller print.
One Design Agency customized the menu’s typography in the right amount. When bar guests skim over the content, they need it to be understandable and readable as much as possible. Therefore, customizing the fonts too much – as in, making a new, unique font from scratch – may have resulted in a menu that is difficult and frustrating to read.
Keefer Bar Print Design Successfully Creates Its Own Mix Of Cultural Flavors
Keefer Bar serves Asian-inspired food and beverages in a Vancouver community built by Chinese immigrants and their descendants. Hence, it’s natural that One Design Agency continues this theme with its print design solution, even some graphic designers would commend this move.
Staying true to the community they serve resulted in a menu that exceeds all expectations when it comes to originality and authenticity.
What makes Keefer Bar print design work is the immaculate attention to detail. If the design team had left out only one of the constituents of this design, no matter how small – the whole project would not have captured the imagination and attention as successfully.
By forming ties with the bar’s present location and keeping up with its thematic origins, the Keefer Bar menu design represents a unique homage to Chinese culture.
The brand and agency’s attention to detail, their holistic approach to design and their unique insight into both past and present cultures are just some of the reasons why Keefer Bar won our Best Print Design Award.