Designed by Messy, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Nostalgic imagery from the Mediterranean coast was added to complete the brand story.
A key feature of the store is its unique charcoal chicken rotisserie — clearly visible through the storefront windows on Bunda Street.
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.
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.
We also designed the store graphics and brand messages, stencilled and hand-painted by local artists in Canberra to maintain the brand’s characteristics.