Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 25 July 2017
High Street Wine Co. is a wine bar and shop located in the Pearl neighbourhood of San Antonio, Texas. UK-based graphic design studio Conductor, working closely with architects Dado Group, created a visual identity that expresses something of the cheerful personality of its hosts, the ambience and community of a busy bar and its distinctive interior design.
Drawing on the name for inspiration Conductor, through colour, type and pattern, find a balance between street markings and signage, and the material qualities and forms of Dado Group’s interior design. Collaborating with Tom Froese, Conductor layer these with an idiosyncratic character and community spirit through a variety of convivial illustrations. These run across menus, coasters and website.
High Street Wine Co’s interior design is a mix of exposed concrete floor, gold details, wood and stone surfaces. A distinctive slatted wood ceiling and wall, alongside a long bar gives the space a strong linear quality.
High Street Wine Co’s visual identity plays with material and form in a similar way using wood, gold clips and block foil print finish, cool grey boards, and pattern. This pattern works well to make a connection between the distinctive slatted wood ceiling and walls of the bar, and the lines that guide traffic and pedestrians through streets, informed by the name of the bar.
The street reference also plays out in the use of condensed uppercase sans-serif Tungsten, and the orientation and intersection of type, much like street names on a map or passing traffic on a two-way road. These are subtle yet discernible ideas, and this built environment quality makes sense when used alongside illustration of people and community.
Tom Froese’s illustrations, through form and colour, positive and negative, manage to break up busy compositions. These are cheerful and engaging in their detail, and find a balance between something of modern day America and European cafe culture. Thematically, these weave together a lively cafe and bar experience, moments of quiet pause within the city, a sense of community, the formal and informal, and touch upon good food and wine as an activity to draw people together.
The illustrations sit well within coasters, within the context of menus and throughout website. They establish a pleasant continuity, alongside colour and type, that avoids the logo-centric and focuses on conveying tone and expressing character.
Illustration offers contrast to what is the more utilitarian elements of architectural design, and the references to the surrounding infrastructure of the neighbourhood. There could be an argument made that these lack a resonance, however, there is an intelligence in the conceptual relationship, one of the built environment and the communities it serves.