Starting from an unusual, blind street corner in a somewhat dormant block within the city centre, we were invited to help reinvent the location through a holistic design intervention. The existing space was so far utilised through expected patterns — by closing itself from the surrounding street context, drawing visitors inside and not actively shaping the flow outside.
The new owners wanted to change that. A joint vision of a fresh, active, and context-changing focal point that would reinvigorate the neighbourhood clearly emerged. Through close cooperation with the celebrated Croatian studio Penezić & Rogina, architects, who lead the project, we were in an ideal situation for an interdisciplinary project where the client fully trusts us, to design the space from scratch and consistently interweave the visual communications with architecture throughout the project.

ClientLUXUS MAŽ LtdServicesnaming, visual identity, collateral design, signage and interior graphics design, event openingAssociatesPenezić & Rogina, architects (architecture and interior design)Year2012

Concept

The idea of a “block” as a social, urban, contextual and design element was consequently applied through the entire project, by creating a multivalent object which animates not only its interior but also the public city space surrounding it. Block for the local community, “Blok bar” as we named it, emerged from the pattern of characteristic Zagreb urbanity, would be communicated in the design starting from the logo and visual identity, through graphic pattern on a big glass cube in the middle of the bar to graphical applications on interior elements, signage pictograms and related stationery.
It’s a block (the tap area in the shape of a cube) within a block (the entire bar is a cube) within a block (the block of houses in which the bar is located) within a block (the urban area) — a block that opens, closes, constructs and deconstructs, a living block that corresponds with its surroundings. This became the foundation of the architectural and design concept.

Architecture and design

Once we all agreed on the integral concept of the space and found the right bar name to accompany it, the architects took care of implementing the concept structurally, while we started designing its visual communications. Throughout the process of defining the visual standards, we coordinated the color palette, main visual elements and their relations to achieve a consistent look and feel across all materials.
By unusual positioning of the tap area and all the service elements on the outer corner of the space and its “blocking” within the most expressive element of the bar’s identity — a giant glass cube — a two-way activation of the space was achieved, both inside and outside.

The visual identity revolves around the idea of a cube/block that opens, closes, multiplies, constructs and deconstructs. The basic symbol is a simple, closed, flat hexagon, a dormant block. In applications, it comes alive, forming a flexible visual system. From the basic symbol we also derived a pattern that was applied on a glass cube, making it the focal point of the concept communication and a lantern at night. The color palette is derived from surrounding urban elements with a dynamic, fresh accent. Typography is urban in feel, very honest and direct in form.
All of the accompanying materials were derived from the main concept, but each having its own little twist. For example, menu covers featured a die cut symbol-as-a-window through which the menu itself was visible in different cover colours. The menu was designed in such a way to be easily editable and flexible enough for the bar managers to be able to change it quickly when needed. The business cards were themselves a little unfolding cube, revealing information on the inside, while the annual calendars featured free interpretations of the established visual system.

Results

Blok bar is now a cozy, 30 m2 bar, very popular with the urban crowd in Zagreb. Among other bars, it oozes character, recognisable and approachable identity. Since its opening it has truly invigorated the area and became the new favorite spot. The place got great national and international media coverage and was featured on several design exhibitions. It exemplifies the benefits of a holistic approach to architecture and design.


Photos by Damil Kalogjera

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