This project is the typical startup story, an idea around which a whole brand needed to be invented. The idea was looking to improve on the successful coffee retail chains, not just a lounge with free WiFi, but by adding an art gallery and performance space to turn the space in a multi-discipline gathering place that could feed all the senses.

The first item of the list was naming, a simple catchy name that would immediately create a link between coffee and art, quite a challenge given the complexity of the concept and the fact that gourmet coffee was already a congested segment. The first name we proposed was “SMART – Art so fresh it’s never seen a museum”. Like SWATCH but with the added value that SMART also made the conceptual tie with art from young (inexpensive) artist. Art that is freshly made, like a good coffee, not something you’d see hanging in a museum. This meant art accessible to everyone, not just to the affluent collectors, what a perfect name! SMART.

To our bewilderment the client didn’t feel the name captured the essence of their concept, so back to the drawing board, feeling your best idea had just succumbed.

After a taking a break and resetting our creative clock we developed CANVAS Café and Gallery, to identify the space as place were interests, passions, lives combined to create. The space were all of this was to happen had to be aptly called THE CANVAS, and it stuck. The name was chosen.

Being a “concept” much of the brand identity was developed fairly quickly and without the opportunity of further refinements, also everything was on a shoestring budget, which never helps.

The client tried to develop the concept into a franchise and sadly after several years of operations the project was wound down.

Through the years The Canvas became an anchor for neighborhood activities in the University district of San Francisco, with many loyal customers and hosting well attended art openings, music concerts, and poetry readings. I remember reading many posts from longtime clients that were bemoaning the loss of one of their favorite hangouts.

PROJECT GALLERY