2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Photo Credit : TonyMott.com.au and Pete Johnson


Project Overview

“An Osteria is a laid-back place to enjoy food, drinks and good company.”

Guy Grossi presented the CIP Creative team with the challenge of designing the theme and collateral for his new Venetian inspired restaurant, Merchant. His dream was to create a strong Venetian Osteria in the heart of Melbourne.

Project Commissioner

Grossi Restaurant Group

Project Creator

CIP Creative


Pete Johnson, AJ Storen, Meredith Earls

Project Brief

Our brief was to recreate and reflect the true dining experience and vibe of Venice and the Venetian people by infusing the romance, fun, colour, ambience and flavours of Venice for a new restaurant in the heart of Melbourne.

In Guy’s words “the inspiration for the Merchant evolved from the rich Venetian culture where my mother came from, the Gothic buildings, an abundance of water and boats, food and wine being consumed with gusto”.

This setting was to be aligned with the experience of the customers who can walk in through the restaurant door and genuinely feel they had stepped out of a Melbourne laneway and into another world, the world of the romantic fun filled Venice.
We were tasked with designing everything with Venetian life in mind, from the murals on the wall, to the plates, napkins, menus, wine glasses, business cards, signage and website.

Most importantly we had to achieve Guy Grossi’s dream of creating a world within a world in the heart of an Australian city.

Project Innovation / Need

Venetian culture, in everything they do - from their food, to their attitudes, to their architecture - is very unique. While there isn’t one style that is typically Venetian, we felt, the way that they combine influences, creates a distinct way of doing things. It was important for us to reflect on and enhance the Venetian experience - something new for Melbourne.

Design Challenge

The greatest challenge, other than the scale of the project, was to create a consistent visual identity that would be devoid of a consistent logo.

This idea came through reflecting on the architectural styles within Venice - rich and diverse and across many periods from the Gothic to Baroque. We aimed to mirror this by avoiding sticking to one consistent brand mark, instead creating a consistent theme using a variety of influences and mediums.

The identity was developed to reference the obvious watery blues - the single consistent design element throughout. This was interpreted in a number of ways across the different applications, from the hypothetical watermarks on the plates, to the subtle background treatments on the 12-meter mural (a considerable challenge in itself to print and install!).

Hand drawn elements, vector patterns and paint watermarks added the required depth to the themes. The issue became where to show restraint and where to go all out!

The other element of considerable challenge was the marketplace of Melbourne’s restaurants. While competition research wasn’t obviously a tough challenge, the market is definitely flooded for choice. Producing a result that had a point of difference took quite some consideration.


With our sources we were able to find the majority of products and supplies including printing, plate manufacture and signage components from within Melbourne. This kept the costs under control and ensured maximum use of local sourcing. CIP Creative is always on a look out for recycled or at least carbon neutral paper stocks in its projects.

This award recognises traditional or digital visual representation of ideas and messages. Consideration given to clarity of communication and the matching information style to audience.
More Details