Dutchscot is a funny looking word. I had to double check the spelling multiple times while working on this article. But, though the name may be an awkward mash-up of “Dutch” and “Scottish” — clues to the two founders’ heritage (one is half Dutch, the other half Scottish) — their work is top notch. One of my favourite projects of the London based design studio is the branding of a Japanese restaurant in Yorkshire.
Issho is a cosy and sophisticated restaurant that serves British-infused Japanese cuisine. The logo references the red hanko stamps used as signatures and seals in Japan, without resorting to any garish, cliched typefaces that often appear in all kinds of Asian-focused designs. Instead, a thin, clean sans serif forms a contemporary logo that gives a hint to its traditional inspiration when printed on collateral. Its appearance on light boxes and the bronze signage shifts connotations towards the fresh energy of a metropolis like Tokyo, or Osaka. Kintsugi, the art of repair of broken pottery via gold-dusted lacquer, is a key concept and motif that snakes throughout the collateral. This practice has received a lot of attention in the West. The poetic and philosophical appeal of the idea that taking care to repair something, making the mending visible, and even transforming it into a statement of greater beauty, is a universally appealing one. Kintsugi appears on photographs that decorate the restaurant’s walls. I am not a fan of random faces as decoration for eateries, and I think that the half Japanese / half British split portraits are a little too literal, while also alienating non-white British citizens. A better application of kintsugi is the crack of copper is adds to an otherwise minimal menu. It is also used to divide covers and business cards into sections filled with colour, pattern, or the sheen of a Spot UV.
Three strong patterns were commissioned from Japanese / British designer, Eley Kishimoto. This is an example of an appropriate collaboration, that respects the cultural roots of the restaurant. The prints enliven collateral, and a monochrome version follows the perimeter of the restaurant’s ceiling. Overall, a strong, but subtle, restaurant identity that mostly strays from cultural cliches. Find out more about Dutchscot here and on Instagram.