Creating a community minded supermarket

NEWS Mercato IMAGE

Located in Griffith, NSW, The Italian Fresh Mercato is a newly designed and delivered powerhouse of the Griffith community. The supermarket offers the product range of a large supermarket, with the warmth and bespoke quality of a local Italian delicatessen.

Leveraging the incredible fresh produce of the Griffith region, along with an extensive product list of curated, imported Italian products, The Italian Fresh Mercato has quickly been embraced by the largely Italian/Australian community of Griffith.

i2C Architects’ Interior Design and Branded Environments studios were engaged to design the interiors, brand identity, environmental graphics, signage and wayfinding of the new supermarket. With an ambitious timeline of 4 months from concept to opening for a Christmas trading deadline, a truly collaborative and well communicated approach needed to be executed to ensure cohesive designs were achieved. This approach ensured design decisions were made efficiently and confidently and while COVID-19 impacted our ability to go on-site and conduct the usual quality checks, communication and trust with the builders, Unita, and consultants became key to the project’s success.

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 collective team took a collaborative, place-based approach, selecting colour palettes and design features that honoured the historic, cobblestoned streets and vine covered shops of Italy, and paired them with references to modern regional Australia, such as the iconic orange tree, something the Griffith region is known for.

The layout of the store was extensively considered to offer the best traffic flow and opportunities included a café, large fresh produce zone, multi bay bakery and deli space, along with a dedicated gourmet aisle and liquor department. Custom features, including produce bins, display shelves and bakery cart, along with bespoke bulkhead and ceiling treatments such as wine barrels, rolling pins and shutters, were designed to enhance the overall customer experience. Specialty items such as the vintage tractor, Vespa and bicycle helped to form connections with the local farming and Italian communities, leading to what can only be seen as a unique and inspiring offering for the Griffith community.

Image: Ryan Linnegar

To help bring the overall experience to life and go beyond the physical store, the brand was created to leverage the idea of ‘a taste of home’.  This led to the development of the brand identity that was anchored in the idea of passionate Italian hands and the fluidity of cooking.

Photography and video content that focused on hands creating and working with food was used to set the tone and convey the idea of passionate hands. 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 itself is constructed through script style handwritten typography, reminiscent of the passion, flow and musicality of the Italian language, anchored with the more stamp like quality of the secondary san serif typography. 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

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 were designed to leverage the brand typography and colours, while ensuring materiality connections with the interior designs as well as overall 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

Senior Graphic Designer