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On Rye by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut, United States

Opinion by Richard Baird.

Brand identity and print by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

On Rye is a fast-casual sandwich shop, with a space in the US capital of Washington DC, inspired by the Jewish deli. It has a menu of unexpected recipes that dial down the salt and bumps up the veggies, uses natural and wholesome ingredients, and gives traditional dishes a modern twist. On Rye has an interior that brings a contemporary finesse to retrospective detailing and features a brand identity designed by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and his team. Brand identity functions on a few different levels. It works as an expression of On Rye’s wholesome menu, honours the origins of the Jewish deli in the US and adds to interior using contrast, in the weight and shape of type, the brightness of colour and the playful qualities of photography within a space of material detail and traditional fixtures and fittings. The project included business cards, menus, wall-coverings, signage and website.

Brand identity and interior graphics by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

While interior goes all in for the retrospective deli cues, one that is incredibly well-finished and with an authenticity you get from a serious commitment to detail, Pentagram’s brand identity works in something of a modern urban spirit that taps into the origins of the Jewish deli in America. On Rye is a great name, it speaks of the alternative, health conscious and calls to mind something of the wholesome and hearty. This is emphasised by visual identity through a contrast of simple but bold typographical form and colourful food photography.

Wordmark by Pentagram and signage built by HapstakDemetriou for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Wordmark is compact and impactful, drawing a distinction from the familiar forms of Franklin Gothic through the juxtaposition of Extra Condensed and Regular, and the use of both horizontal and vertical arrangement. The robust letterforms are elevated in their implementation as signage, with a very physical prominence in depth, size and proportion. These choices find a really lovely balance between hearty and wholesome food and a modern urban attitude. Wordmark and related typographical expressions, and a colour palette of black, white and a bright yellow which runs across printed materials, punctuate, but do not overwhelm, an interior of traditional material detail and furnishing.

Brand identity by Pentagram and signage built by HapstakDemetriou for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Logo, menus, signage, photography and website by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and menus design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and menus design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and business card design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Where typesetting manages to draw distinction from familiar typographical form, photography feels distinctive and original from the outset, and is the real highlight, making the most of the colours and texture of On Rye’s sandwiches. It does a fantastic job of communicating difference and positioning, making the most of the darker colour of rye bread, and saying something of the deli’s unusual recipes effectively in the marbling of this with white bread.

Brand identity and print by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and wall-coverings by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Photography by Bobby Doherty for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Photography by Bobby Doherty for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Photography by Bobby Doherty for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

There is lovely contrast between an urban typographical simplicity and robustness, natural colour, detail and character of Bobby Doherty’s photography, and the more traditional flourishes of interior design. These function to differentiate, communicate and set tone, and feel well-balanced within the context of interior design. Website, absent the material detail of interior, works in plenty of white space, elevating type and image.

Typographical form, the approach to signage, and colour palette, in conjunction with interior, and a playful welcoming approach to copywriting, do a really lovely job of referencing NYC, the origins of the Jewish deli, but never feels too blunt or heavy handed, benefitting from a moderation and balance within either an online or in store context. More work by Pentagram on BP&O.

Design: Pentagram. Food Photography: Bobby Doherty. Signage: HapstakDemetriou. Opinion: Richard Baird. Fonts Used: Franklin Gothic.

Brand identity and tone of voice by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and tone of voice by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

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Brand identity and website design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and website design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and website design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and website design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

Brand identity and merchandise design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

What do you think of Pentagram’s brand identity for On Rye? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or get the conversation started on Twitter.

Brand identity and sticker design by Pentagram for Washington DC sandwich shop On Rye

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  • Posthuman

    How does a sandwich shop afford the mighty Pentagram?

  • Really like the horizontal oriented wordmark. The condensed ON to the wide R back to the thinner Y and finishing with the wide E feels like the undulating white streaks in the rye bread. The effect is really prominent on the knockout version on the website nav. Love that hero shot of the diagonally cut sandwiches as well! Only thing that is off to me is the vertical version. Looks like it could use some finessing. The right side of the N looks like it right aligns with the very peak of the R’s curve making it feel a little off balance. Could just be me though…

    • Seems like the wrong vertical version was added to On Rye’s FB. I’ve update the image.

      • Yeah that could have been it, it does look better to me in application. That hanging sign and business cards look great with it.

  • SimSimSala

    Another mediocre project praised simply because it was done by Pentagram. The only thing that saves it is the photography.

  • Manolis S

    Laaaaaaaazy…

  • The interior of the On Rye shop looks amazing, great work done by Pentagram on interiors. Lovely food photography, really liked it.