Mister Zee’s

Designed by Messy, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia.

Mister Zee’s logo animation

Mister Zee’s is a new restaurant concept in Canberra, Australia, serving a menu inspired by traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. We developed a brand identity to guide the design of the store, including a logo, outdoor signage, experiential graphics and branded collateral.

Mister Zee’s identity

Mister Zee’s signage

The idea behind the restaurant is “Honest, mid-eastern food served in a fresh and feel-good way.”

We set out to create a different type of mid-eastern restaurant, with a unique personality and a friendly atmosphere — a first for the region. A place where locals could enjoy delicious kebabs, shish, charcoal chicken, and a cold beer in an unpretentious environment.

Mister Zee’s food

A major part of the project was developing a persona for the ficticious Mister Zee character who was inspired by the owner’s eccentric father. As a result, Mister Zee’s has a welcoming, down-to-earth feel.

Mister Zee’s photography

“It’s the shish” was a quote we created to help communicate this laid back persona.

Where exactly is Mister Zee from? This is intentionally kept a mystery — the store designed to be culturally ambiguous. Avoiding typical mid-eastern stereotypes proved to be a challenge throughout the design process, but we wanted to build intrigue, allowing the customer to make their own judgement based on their experience.

Our design team did, however, draw inspiration from Turkish and Greek symbolism, blending traditional Middle Eastern shapes with a modern edge.

Mister Zee’s reference

Mister Zee’s logo

Mister Zee’s wrapping paper

Mister Zee’s food

Likewise, the interiors followed suit. Created by Brad Ward Design, the interior design conjured an intriguing in-store environment to evoke a non-specific taverna style from the Mediterranean region. The brand colours and aesthetics manifested through the chevroned wood paneling, turquoise tiles, concrete, and vibrant furniture.

Mister Zee’s photography

Nostalgic imagery from the Mediterranean coast was added to complete the brand story.

Mister Zee’s wall art

A key feature of the store is its unique charcoal chicken rotisserie — clearly visible through the storefront windows on Bunda Street.

Mister Zee’s photography

The flames and charcoal informed the visual style and typeface selection. We chose Sweeper as the primary typeface, for its casual, charcoal feel, and complemented it with the trusty Gotham as a secondary typeface.

Mister Zee’s typefaces

Mister Zee’s stickers

All the elements of our patterns were hand-drawn in-house using charcoal, and scanned to create the final brand assets. It was a time-consuming process, but well worth it, and the only way to create the authentic identity we were after.

Mister Zee’s identity

Mister Zee’s identity

We also designed the store graphics and brand messages, stencilled and hand-painted by local artists in Canberra to maintain the brand’s characteristics.

Mister Zee’s food

Mister Zee’s photography

View more identity work from Messy. Follow the team on Twitter.

6 responses

  1. This is the kind of project that I find puzzling because I question if the client actually paid the design studio for their service. There is a lot of this kind of small scale branding going on these days but I have yet to find a small coffee shop or small retail store that has the money to hire a talented firm to design their branding, signage and packaging. I know that we all do pro-bono work but you can’t make a living with those kinds of clients. I wonder if the designer’s received a lifetime supply of delicious kebabs. I would interested to hear from our designer and their thoughts.

  2. For those of you wondering, the studio was paid actual money for the project, and maybe a free kebab or two. We’re finding that smaller restaurant operators are investing more and more in their brand strategy and identity at start-up. It adds value to their business as well as setting them up for expansion into other markets. Of course larger corporate work pays more, but this type of project is rewarding for both parties. We had a lot of fun with it and the client is seeing a return on their investment. – Jason, Messy Design.

  3. The design and style really depicts the mediterranean culture. Their choices of shape and color ties it to the middle eastern region, specifically Greece. Overall, very unique and very smart, something that would make customers feel right at home. I also think the choices by the interior designers were smart, since they give the illusion of dining in the middle east rather than Australia.

  4. I found the design and style to be very original, unique and intriguing. The graphic logos and hand drawn patterns were very creative and connected well with the theme and concept of the Mediterranean culture as well with the Turkish and Greek Symbolism. The characteristics of the designs, pictures, and vivid colors made the restaurant inviting and relaxing. It looks like a very interesting cultural experience.

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