Creating a community minded supermarket


Community minded supermarket offers the product range of a large supermarket, with warmth and bespoke quality. Nestled in Griffith, NSW, The Italian Fresh Mercato actively thrives, proffering a diverse assortment of locally sourced Italian delicatessen.

Harnessing the remarkable abundance of fresh produce hailing from the Griffith region, The Italian Fresh Mercato actively capitalises on its wide-ranging inventory comprising carefully selected Italian imports, thereby promptly garnering enthusiastic support from the predominantly Italian/Australian community in Griffith.

i2C ArchitectsInterior Design and Branded Environments studios engaged in creating the interior designs, brand identity, environmental graphics, signage, and wayfinding elements for the newly established supermarket. Embracing an ambitious timeframe of 4 months, commencing from the conceptualization stage and culminating in the grand opening, which coincided with the Christmas trading deadline, the team embraced a truly collaborative and extensively communicated approach. This approach effectively ensured the attainment of cohesive designs through efficient and confident decision-making processes. Although the impact of COVID-19 hindered on-site visits and customary quality inspections, the project’s triumph relied heavily on open channels of communication and unwavering trust established with the builders, Unita, and other consultants.

Project Context

The existing 2500m2 vacant tenancy provided a blank canvas to work from. With Coles and Woolworths located across the street, i2C saw an opportunity to create something unique and exciting to resonate with the local community and celebrate the beautiful produce of the Griffith region.

Image: Ryan Linnegar
Interior and Brand Design

With a target audience of predominately migrant Italian, second-generation Italian-Australians and multi generation Australians, the vision for the new supermarket was to provide an authentically Italian experience that embraced the local culture of the community. The speciality offer would focus on fresh produce of the Griffith region, along with an extensive range of imported Italian products, so the concept was curated around nostalgia and the narrative of ‘a taste of home.’ The collaborative team actively adopted a place-based approach, actively selecting color palettes and design elements that paid homage to the historic, cobblestoned streets and vine-draped shops of Italy, while seamlessly incorporating references to contemporary regional Australia, such as the iconic orange tree that epitomizes the identity of the Griffith region.

Extensive deliberation went into the layout of the store, actively considering optimal traffic flow and seizing opportunities to incorporate various amenities. Noteworthy additions comprised a vibrant café, a spacious zone dedicated to fresh produce, a multi-bay bakery and deli area, as well as a dedicated gourmet aisle and liquor department. Meticulously designed custom features, including produce bins, display shelves, and a bakery cart, to elevate the overall customer experience. Furthermore, the design team actively integrated customized bulkhead and ceiling treatments, infusing the space with a captivating ambiance through the strategic incorporation of wine barrels, rolling pins, and shutters.

Notably, the inclusion of specialty items like a vintage tractor, Vespa, and bicycle served as intentional touchpoints that fostered meaningful connections with both the local farming community and the vibrant Italian diaspora, culminating in an unparalleled and captivating offering that continues to inspire the Griffith community.

Image: Ryan Linnegar

To actively immerse customers in a holistic experience that transcends the physical store, the brand was strategically crafted to harness the concept of “a taste of home”. This pivotal notion guided the development of a brand identity deeply rooted in the imagery of passionate Italian hands and the graceful artistry of cooking.

Photography and video content took center stage, intentionally highlighting hands engaged in the creation and manipulation of food. By centering the spotlight on these expressive hands, the tone was set, effectively conveying the concept of ardently devoted craftsmanship. This also allowed for those interacting with the brand to place themselves in the picture and connect with the motion and emotion of cooking.

The logo embodies the essence of the brand through the deliberate use of script-style handwritten typography, evoking the passion, fluidity, and melodic nature of the Italian language. This choice of typography, is anchored with the more stamp-like quality of the secondary san serif. The approach to the logo construction allows for “The Italian” to become the primary descriptor, with the secondary text becoming the identifier, leading to a versatile and tidy logo for use now as well as any future brand expansion.

Image: Ryan Linnegar
Collaboration of environmental graphics and interior design

The identity then flowed through the brand experience instore to connect the identity through signage, environmental graphics and interior designs. The use of both the Italian and English language in the design of the 10 major bulkhead signage elements allows for a direct representation of the local community and the coming together of cultures. This combining of language also provides opportunities for learning and the joyful experience of shared culture and connection, much like the passing down of food knowledge.

Taking a place-based approach, the environmental graphics used throughout the Mercato tell stories of produce and a passion for food and wine, while drawing on similarities between the wine and produce regions of Tuscany and Griffith. The front-of-shelf, overhead aisle, gondola, and wayfinding signage actively utilized the brand’s typography and colors, while ensuring materiality connections with the interior designs and legibility.

Image: Ryan Linnegar
The Outcome

By taking a collaborative approach, i2C were able to produce a cohesive and well considered design outcome that seamlessly integrated the interior design with the branded environments. This integration ensured that one single narrative was woven through the design and proved that leveraging in-house teams result in stellar outcomes. Since its opening, the supermarket has quickly become a leader in the region. The excitement, positive feedback and engagement from the community shows how much people are enjoying the store. Equally important to a well curated product range; the brand, experiential and interior designs play a critical part in the store’s success. Overall, we achieved what we set out to do by creating moments for the community to engage with the store and feel a welcoming comfort, just like a hug from Nonna.

Read more about The Italian Fresh Mercato

Dan Coman

Dan Coman

Associate, Branded Environments Lead