Concepted, created and executed top-to-bottom branding and identity for Cull & Pistol, a gastropub-style seafood restaurant in Chelsea Market, NYC.
The owners of the popular Lobster Place seafood restaurant in New York City's Chelsea Market wanted to expand on their success and open a companion seafood restaurant next door, with the idea of delivering exceptionally fresh Maine seafood to the NYC market.
As a clever nod to the fishing industry, The name Cull & Pistol references two lobstering terms – one, a lobster missing one claw (cull), the other missing both (pistol).
A number of different concepts were presented to the client along with this one, all visually different and playing up a different angle of the business. For this direction, I wanted to emphasize the elements of an industrial shipyard, focusing on raw metals, dark steel grays and Browns, and rusty oxbloods.
Textural elements also played a large role in allowing this to come to life and inspired a gritty look and feel.
A New York Style typeface
I first sought out to find a tall gothic typeface reminiscent of New York City industrial engravings. Inspired by the shape of the ampersand in the name, I sought out to transform this element into a fishing hook.
What happened at first was a shape that started to feel too delicate – the tall, upright qualities weren't working in my favor, and looked instead like a small fishing lure. The hook that I wanted to achieve was larger, bulkier, and more like a pulley hook.
After struggling digitally in this process for some time, I took the process off the computer and began to sketch on paper again, this time using a bolded ampersand from Baskerville as my inspiration.
When I finally arrived at the perfect shape, I scanned it in for digital manipulation. To match this wider, more decorative new look, subtle outline shading and hand-rendered serifs were added to the typeface. It instantly felt punchier, and held its own next to the visually prominent hook.
For applications where space was tight, the logo could also be deconstructed down into smaller parts and used in these symbol forms, creating a flexible visual system.
As the wordmark became more prominent, brighter and bolder colors were stripped away from the palette, leaving colors that were instead more natural and subdued.
To keep the tactile element present, a gritty texture was overlaid onto the wordmark, and designs for the menu and supporting collateral were printed on a textured Kraft paper with a rough feel.
Designs for the exterior of the restaurant pulled in raw manufacturing elements like rivets, and inside a brick wall was painted and then treated to look like a vintage lobster ad, corroded over time by the elements.
Practicality and Efficiency
To keep that nod to the shipping industry, a no-frills approach was taken to produce the elements. The Kraft paper provided a practical look at a low cost, and stamps with the logomark and ampersand were made to apply the branding on any printed piece, thus also saving on printing costs.
The look of the stamping on the Kraft paper added texture and a practical look – by manually stamping these elements on, the placement was always slightly off-centered or tilted, and the ink slightly lighter in some areas. The result was a beautiful, intentionally unrefined and effortless look.
Working with the architecture firm designing the space, we helped concept elements that would bring our brand vision to life. No-frills lightbulbs were hung from the ceiling by their cords, and ventilation shafts and piping on the ceiling were left exposed to keep the raw, practical look present.
An industrial-inspired gastropub
For the finishing touches, the branding was applied to elements within the space such as old-fashioned milk bottles and wine glasses, and was also frosted onto windows. A metal sign was hung onto the front exterior, created in a shape that mimics the hull of a boat, and upscale gastropub-style elements like reclaimed wood and white tiling were introduced. The end effect was the perfect balance of New York polish and industrial practicality.