WITH (Episode 1) / 2021

Visible and Invisible with Hypothetical or Not

Zhang Jiacheng
Founding Partner / Strategy Principal

What we can see is often limited and visible, but at the same time there is something that is not visible, which is the world and not the world. In Pocca's design practice, we call the visible parts "visible design" and the invisible parts "invisible design", and our job is often about balancing and reconciling the visible and invisible to produce a calm, dynamic and integrated feeling.

When it comes to "visible design", it's all about the visible presentation and design around the visible touch points. For a commercial practice, a logo, a poster, a business card, etc., down to size, color, material texture, presentation media, interaction methods, etc. Through the clever design of each touch point, the comprehensive feeling of the brand is finally gathered. Through the clever design of each touch point, people's comprehensive feeling of the brand is finally gathered.

In the design of "DULi", we did not let the brand logo spread all over the space, but chose the location and role of the logo with restraint, and put more effort into menu design and environmental visual art direction. The logo is important, but put yourself in the shoes of a user to think, people dining in restaurants, the perception of the restaurant brand is shaped by a series of touch points such as entering, sitting, ordering, eating, leaving the restaurant. The two key aspects that people spend a long time in social conversation and experience are ordering and eating, and these two key aspects shape the core brand impression of "DULi". No one wants to be disturbed in these two parts, and the repetitive and high-profile appearance of the logo is like a pop-up ad that reduces the overall experience. So we reduced the proportion of logo exposure and returned to seasoning the dining experience with the feeling of the brand, because a restaurant is ultimately dependent on the unique feeling brought by the food entrusted to the user.

Therefore, we directed and followed up the photography style of the menu items, trying to use the image to tell the understanding of DULi's culinary style. Secondly, we procured different art paper from Lanzhou and Yunnan to extend the brand's atmosphere from visual to tactile, from color presentation, tonal matching to tactile sensation. Finally, considering the daily turnover of dishes and new menu items, we designed a loose-leaf binding for the menu, so that the restaurant can simply insert the new menu items each time, eliminating the need for repeated printing. In order to match this binding format, we specially structured the layout and classification of the information on the menu, so that the adjustment of the loose-leaf menu does not affect the overall menu reading and use. This allows customers to touch the comprehensive feeling of "DULi" from the moment they are seated and open the menu.

This combination of feelings is not only visible. Because the visible part is often only the stimulus that triggers the feeling, combined with each person's different experiences, this stimulus is instantly shaped into a mixture of "future perception" and "memory perception", which affects the person's emotions and behaviors, and at the same time. In the individual, this cultivated and summarized feeling is projected into a specific area or scene to become a taste or tone. We call the design of the architecture of this feeling "invisible design". For the design commission of commercial brands, "invisible design" is often the strategy and tactics of the brand, covering the philosophical level, commercial level, user level, product level, marketing level, etc.

As a fusion restaurant with medium to high-end pricing, plant-based cuisine, and a consistent oriental atmosphere, DULi's oriental atmosphere is more restrained and very international, which is very different from the general vegetarian restaurant's approach of vegetarian health and zenology. The Dutch founder of the restaurant uses Sichuan cuisine as the basis for fusing a large number of Western and Southeast Asian dining style with plant-based ingredients, presenting a dish that is both rustic and modern, with an orderly and restrained oriental aesthetic. This "fusion" of introspection, texture, organic and stylization became the core of our "invisible design". Through the visualization of this core, the fusion aesthetics of "DULi" is distributed in all touch points of the restaurant, from door stickers to store cards, from posters to tote bags, we rhythmically and focus on transforming invisibility into visible perception, forming an overall brand atmosphere that envelops the consumers in the restaurant.

Therefore, "visible design" needs to carry "invisible design", while "visible design" allows "invisible design" to be seen, intermingling, promoting, influencing, controlling and releasing each other. The "visible" exists in the "invisible", and the "invisible" is also a kind of "visible", which alludes to the Taoist thought of Yin and Yang. We believe that design is the "editing" and "integrating" of "concept and research" combined with "taste" to “devise” a tentative result. Then, as the design client uses and develops the result, a consensus on the result is gradually formed in the consumer's perception, so that the "tentative nature" of the result grows into "sustainability" as the consensus attracts, spreads and becomes firm. A hypothesis is a hypothetical scenario, usually starting with the word "what if" and forming an imaginary and fictitious setting. Hypotheses are often the beginning of "concepts and research". Even if the concept has been formed before the design, at the beginning of the design, the concept has become a past tense that can only be summarized, with reference to the future unknown, but without the possibility of reference. The concept can be described by the word "obsolete", once it is not its time, it is difficult to get its momentum, and also difficult to get its people. Take commercial brands as an example, no brand is oriented to the past and the intersection of users, it must be oriented to the future, so the study of concepts often starts from future-oriented hypothesis.

We met the owners of "My Jinji" in October last year, when they had just rented a store called "One Face Candy" on Maoming Road in Shanghai and planned to create their own brand in this store. We defined the concept at the beginning of our cooperation with them, that is, a new tea concept that does not follow the trend, and no outdated concept can naturally take root and grow into a brand from the mind of the owners. So we start from hypothesis to explore the possibility of concept.

How to enter the door of hypothesis? We often say that if you ask the right question, you already have the answer. If you ask questions that do not have answers, it means that no questions touch the core.

At the beginning of hypothesis, you need to learn to ask the right questions first. What is the right question? It is the fundamental question, once the problem is broken down, can continue to go deeper and deeper until touching the essence of the problem, the problem can be characterized, the way to solve the problem will emerge. So how to hypothesize first lies in how to ask questions.

How to ask to the core? Break the sand and ask the bottom.

The hypothetical concept for the "My Jinji" project came about when the owners were debating whether or not to change the name of "One Face Candy" and while discussing brand name options they mentioned the name "My Jinji" and mentioned in passing that the trademark for the name had been registered, but they just hadn't used it yet and hadn't thought of where to use it. We immediately caught this interesting behavior and started our work with the question, "Why would you want to register the trademark name My Jinji"?

"My Jinji" is the name of a love song, which translates to "my little kumquat”. The two owners are a couple who met on campus while studying for their master's and doctoral degrees together. Since the wife was fond of music and the song "My Jinji" was the music that witnessed the love between the couple, the husband registered the name of the song as a present for his wife.

Moved by this story, we carried out the Chinese naming of the brand, taking music as the theme and naming it “to listen with tea”, so that each cup of tea drink becomes an interesting melody and music can be tasted.

In order to let the music attribute run through the overall brand feeling, we re-planned the product line, from the original 48 drinks to 28, and re-defined different product categories according to the characteristics of each product, and named each product line and each product with different music genres in combination with the characteristics of the product categories, thus a lovely melody emerged.

The reason why we started from the menu again is that, like "DULI", what users really interact with is not just a street drink store signage, but a cup of tea drink in their hands, which also becomes the entrance for us to inject the brand feeling. As the project progressed, we gradually shifted the music element from "invisible" to "visible", and gradually shaped the brand through the design of the logo and takeaway materials.

It all started with the question "Why did you want to register the trademark name My Jinji"?

Before Pocca takes on a design commission, it often starts with a series of sharp questions, to cut through the visible surface in order to reach the invisible substance. It's not just about designing a beautiful surface, it's about generating an interesting soul that Pocca truly sets out to provide.

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