Magpie Studio has created the branding for cocktail bar Seed Library, creating a visual identity to match the ‘lo-fi analogue’ vision for the bar.
Seed Library, which is based in the basement of One Hundred Shoreditch (Formerly Ace Hotel), is run by Ryan Chetiawardana — better known as Mr Lyan — who Magpie says is “often referred to as the world’s best bartender”. His first bar, White Lyan, opened in London in 2013 and explored sustainability and waste-reduction through using no perishables, fruit or ice. He then went on to launch a series of bars around London, as well as in Washington DC and Amsterdam, including Super Lyan, Dandelyan, Cub, Lyaness, and Silver Lyan.
Magpie has previously worked with Chetiawardana on projects including the identity for Dandelyan and Super Lyan, which scooped the agency a D&AD Pencil in 2020. The studio worked closely with Mr Lyan and hospitality company Lore Group on the Seed Library project, starting work in September 2021, with the bar opening in late February this year.
The brief around the design for Seed Library from Chetiawardana was that the space should feel “stripped back, clean and bold but slightly fucked up”, according to Ben Christie, Magpie Studio creative director. It was also important to avoid anything too literal, such as references to the seeds or library the name suggests.
Magpie initially ran some ‘scoping sessions’ with the Lore Group team to solidify their ideas for the design, putting together visual references on the studio walls to help them drill down into their ideas of what the identity should look like. Alex Lawrence, Mr Lyan brand director, says that Magpie’s visual identity needed to “translate Ryan’s vision into something tangible and beautiful” and “help define the ethos” of the space. Warmth and contrast play a vital and “spectacular” role, Lawrence adds.
The branding uses patterns inspired by scientific and mathematical diagrams, referencing the process used by the Seed Library team to explore ‘alternative flavour sources’. “When researching patterns in nature, we found a lot of great stuff from vintage science manuals and were interested in the way these incredibly technically complex and ordered diagrams also felt beautiful and organic,” says Christie. “But the bold colour and movement helps everything pop, which is also important – ultimately it’s about creating something that’s striking and intriguing.”
The small copy that intertwines the patterns is an excerpt from a section about black holes found in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, a nod to Chetiawardana’s scientific background. The wordmark uses the typeface Ambit by CoType, a modern take on classic sans serif fonts. “It felt fitting with the modernisation of the patterns, it felt like it had just enough character,” says Christie. The vibrant orange colour palette was chosen to amplify the warmth of the interiors while also feeling fresh and modern, and standing out in the low lighting. The interiors for Seed Library were designed by architect, designer and Lore Group creative director Jacu Strauss.
Christie says that over the years, the Magpie team has “got to know how to translate what’s in Ryan’s head, however abstract and eclectic that might be! It’s definitely the most abstract work we’ve done with him but it’s been fun and really liberating — we’ve netted out on ‘biomechanics meets rave poster’!”