Thali

Type
Restaurant
Location
Oxford
Area
230 sqm

Brand experience and spatial philosophy for an independent set of Indian restaurants.

The challenge was to establish and magnify a subversive concept that differentiates Thali’s brand and dining experience from the crowded market of Indian restaurants. The outcome aims to retain its independent outlook and humble beginnings as it continues to expand across and beyond the UK.

Leaving all clichés and preconceptions of India behind, Blacksheep went on an immersive trip to New Delhi in search for the soul of India.

What we found went above and beyond our expectations. India is an unconventional and majestic country bursting with life, spontaneity, character, culture and charm which we endeavoured to translate seamlessly within the brand and space.

Promotional posters are wheat-pasted directly onto walls and torn down when the offer ends.
A window brings the theatre of the kitchen into view of diners, building in the hustle and bustle of India's city streets.
A range of takeaway packaging solutions were created to cater for the increased demand of the local area.
Collections of gathered cultural ephemera can be found throughout the space to give a lived-in sense of place.
Bespoke plaster work and dim lighting creates intimate dining areas placed throughout the interior.
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Thali started as a street food truck at Glastonbury Festival in 1999. The idea came about after a trip to India which immortalised the concept as a celebration of Indian food and culture. Thali has since evolved into six neighbourhood restaurants. Founder Jim Pizer approached Blacksheep to refresh the brand and spatial concepts.

‘Thali’ refers to a style of eating in India – a selection of dishes are served on one large plate offering six key flavours: sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy. The brand and spatial philosophy was founded upon the discovery of the parallels between festival life and the atmosphere, attitude and spirit of Indian life. Portrayal of these parallels are weaved into every point of the dining experience from the makeshift fanzine menu to the central water station in homage to the traditional washing rituals of India.

Each time the menu changes, a new layer of posters are applied with the old ones left underneath.

The coming and going nature of India whether experienced on the truck or everyday life calls for a non-static identity. Drawing inspiration from the bold visual language and signage of India that often involves handpainting typefaces drawn from memory, the Thali identity was constructed in a similar manner. Blacksheep handcrafted a set of four horizontal and vertical wordmarks where each one is allocated to different brand applications whether that is the Karma loyalty card or the signage of the restaurant. An example of this is the large poster-lined exposed brick wall provides an evolving backdrop to the restaurant. Each time the menu changes, a new layer of posters are applied with the old ones left underneath. The wall becomes an ever-changing collage or a fanzine building up a new patina over time and reflecting the character and humility of life on the streets of India. This method of application adds to the spontaneous and adaptable nature of the brand which can be seen slightly differently on every touch point.

Services

  • Concept & strategy
  • Visual identity
  • Art direction
  • Interior architecture
  • Spatial philosophy
  • Signage
  • FF&E direction
  • Editorial

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