Magpie Studio created the branding for the Seed Library cocktail bar, creating a visual identity that matches the “analog lo-fi” vision of 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, according to Magpie, is “often referred to as the best bartender in the world”. His first bar, White Lyan, opened in London in 2013 and explored sustainability and waste reduction by not using perishables, fruit or ice. He then launched 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 such as the identity for Dandelyan and Super Lyan, who nabbed 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, beginning work in September 2021, with the opening of the bar at the end of February this year.
The brief around Chetiawardana’s Seed Library design was that the space should feel “stripped down, clean and bold yet slightly screwed up”, according to Ben Christie, creative director of Magpie Studio. It was also important to avoid anything too literal, such as references to seeds or the library that the name suggests.
Magpie first held “scoping sessions” with the Lore Group team to solidify their ideas for the design, collecting visual references on the studio walls to help them further their ideas of what the identity should look like. Alex Lawrence, Mr Lyan’s brand manager, explains that Magpie’s visual identity had 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, adds Lawrence.
The brand uses designs inspired by scientific and mathematical diagrams, referencing the process used by the Seed Library team to explore “alternative flavor sources”. “While researching patterns in nature, we found a lot of interesting stuff in old science textbooks and became interested in how these incredibly intricate and technically ordered diagrams also looked beautiful and organic.explains Christie. “But bold color and movement helps anything pop, which is also important – ultimately it’s about creating something striking and intriguing.”
The small print that intertwines the patterns is an excerpt from a section on black holes found in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, a nod to Chetiawardana scientific training. The wordmark uses the typeface Ambit by CoType, a modern take on classic sans serif fonts. “It matched the modernization of the patterns, it felt like it had just enough character,” says Christie. the a vibrant orange color palette was chosen to amplify the warmth of the interiors while feeling fresh and modern, and standing out in low light. Seed Library’s interiors were designed by Lore Group architect, designer and creative director Jacu Strauss.
Christie says that over the years the Magpie team has “learned to translate what’s in Ryan’s head, however abstract and eclectic that may be!” It’s definitely the most abstract work we’ve done with him, but it was fun and really liberating – we succeeded on ‘biomechanics meets rave poster’!”