Responses by Gordon Reid, founder, Middle Boop
Background: The aim was to bring an authentic Los Angeles (LA) coffee shop to life in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Owner Meshari Asamnan is a self-taught coffee roaster who quit his job to launch Vim Coffee. Having fallen in love with LA coffee culture, he realized that there was a need for something similar in Riyadh. The target audiences spanned from young creative types all the way to older professionals who were trendy coffee fans.
Reasoning: I collaborated with Meshari every step of the journey. In the early stages, we both agreed that the packaging needed to be rooted in Riyadh’s culture as we wanted to engage the local demographic, but we also wanted to nod to LA coffee roasters as well. Riyadh, as a city, was also full of color and vibrancy, so the packaging needed to reflect that. With that in mind, I came up with the idea of taking inspiration from the local markets and patterns found all over Riyadh and coming up with my own set of illustrations, one to represent each coffee roast being produced. That would give each coffee package its own identity while having a consistent style overall that linked to the brand.
Challenges: Nailing the initial logo for the brand and getting the color palette right. We iterated many times on the color palette, probably more so than any project I’ve worked on. Though it took a lot of back and forth to get the feel completely right, I’m so happy we did that because the more I refined the palette, the better it looked. And the V brand mark fits well. The aim was to just have it as a rubber stamp, but now, it can be found across every touchpoint. We were also trying to avoid any “coffeehouse” logo clichés.
Favorite details: The illustrations really give the whole project a unique ownability and a firm link back to Riyadh and the culture of the city. It took a lot of refining to get them right but as soon as I’d got them right, it made the whole project come together.
Visual influences: The rich and vibrant patterns found in Riyadh’s markets, the tiles on the buildings and the landscape around the city. All of these factors really helped drive the illustrations, color palette and overall look and feel of the brand and packaging. I also spent a lot of time looking at photography of mid-century modern LA housing. I also checked out Ed Ruscha’s book Some Los Angeles Apartments and Slim Aarons’s photography.
Specific demands: For Vim Coffee, Meshari wanted both an LA feel and a vibe that resonated with Riyadh. How do you mix such different cultures and tick both boxes while also ensuring the execution of every touchpoint is good? The result was the use of color. At one point, we had many bright colors in the palette, leaning more to the Riyadh side than LA, but I kept refining the patterns to find a balance that included more pastel based colors and felt at home in an LA roaster, but was still vibrant enough to resemble a Riyadh market.