Branding & Typography  — Oxfordshire
Carfax Cafe, Oxford
In 2012 entrepreneur, Fernando Kindermann opened Smiley Cafe. Friendly hospitality and Brazilian and Italian dishes are served from the shadowy site – although, that formula wasn’t enough. The venue struggled to attract passing trade and consistent regulars. To help the Carfax Tower stand-out, we used design to attract people and boost sales…
The Project in detail
Meet here for Breakfast, Lunch & Tea
The business needed a rebrand. Improvements meant presenting a professional image. We had hard conversations to convince the management to rename the business. Family and friends all have a stake, but Carfax Cafe didn’t become Fernando’s until weeks into the process – yet Fernando couldn’t forgot the hours of investment, and everyone agreed – authenticity works!
The name is sticky. The purpose of the site needs to be simple to grasp and recognisable.Carfax Cafe is centre-point for locals and a meeting point for visitors. Helping people act, we proposed an obvious call-to-action: Meet here for Breakfast, Lunch & Tea. This works becasue it reveals the friendly informal nature of the business and implys the business function.
Thorough design, diligent typography
The remaining 12th-century St Martin’s Church Tower, known as Carfax Tower deserves a visual language in recognition to the site history. In the middle of this epoch, seventeenth-century Bishop of Oxford and Dean of Christ Church: John Fell (1625 – 1686) (documented by Igino Marini), began an important historical undertaking in typography development. Today, inspired by his endeavour, revival faces mimic The Fell Types (by H&FJ), giving us a glimpse of the idiosyncratic, hand-fabricated glyphs.
The aim of this graphic design goes beyond utility – adding cultural relevance, important both in terms of typography, and historical Oxford.
The design, at first glance is simple – however, it’s a complex interplay of revivalism, paired with a modern classic: Cooper Black Swash.
Bringing a hearty, abundant tone to the letterforms, finished on tastefully coloured cream board: a traditional storytelling foundation. Now the site is established, fostering five-star reviews.
Point of interest
Researching historical facts about the Carfax Tower lead to seek the original plans from the Oxfordshire History Centre. This elevates the menu by divulging interest beyond fast-food.