Oddfellows is an open house members’ club, bar, restaurant and hotel — founded by a team of interior designers. So you’d think that designing their brand experience would be a breeze. But it was becoming an opportunity to release a lifetime of pent up creativity. And it was starting to feel very odd indeed.
Donning hard hats and steel toe cap boots we investigated the part-built venue. We were shown antique literature found underneath the floorboards and looked over the latest design plans. Talking to the designers we could see the incredible vision, but we could sense that keeping the scheme creatively on-track was proving frustrating.
An organising idea
The temptation with an avant-garde members’ club called ‘Oddfellows’ is to make it really odd, so our starting point was to give them a filter for their brand; a single way with which to control the amount of oddness injected into Oddfellows. Our idea: welcomingly odd. The brand would be quirky, but in a charming way, never overbearing or wacky.
Armed with this direction, Oddfellows were able to more easily design the venue, making the usual unusual and the ordinary extraordinary. Nothing matched, but everything made complete sense. In tandem, we created their branding and some key expressions. Prior to launch we filled the street-facing window with portraits of some very odd fellows.
At the heart of the identity was their jumbled logotype that uses two typefaces designed by British sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter, printmaker and, some might say, odd-bod: Eric Gill. Gill Sans and Perpetua have been re-cut to balance their weights and, through sleight of hand, typeface and colour, the word Oddfellows still reads even though the letters are a little jumbled.
A playful use of anagrams on menus and bill holders continues the oddness. The Cock Tales cocktail book takes the verbal identity to a new level, telling the story of ‘the cock and the folded owls’ (folded owls being an anagram of Oddfellows).
Characterised by the proud use of yellow in contrast to the rest of the identity, the second-floor members’ club materials draw influence from its distinctive yellow lacquered bar.
Faced with competitive ventures opening within the same month, Oddfellows more than held their own, attracting an instantly loyal following: selling all their membership subscriptions — via the website we designed — within weeks of the opening. Oddfellows launched to great success and is now expanding its portfolio.