Crate & Barrel owns more than a hundred outlets around the world. Its headquarters are located in Northbrook, Illinois, not far from Chicago, where it all began. It was there that, in 1962, the Segals opened their first store in the old building of the elevator plant. They bought the goods for sale themselves from European ceramists and glassblowers, which allowed them to avoid wholesale markups. The retail chain still works directly with manufacturers, offering textiles and glass from India, Mexico, and Thailand.
Meaning and History
What is Crate & Barrel?
Crate & Barrel is an American holding company owned by German company Otto GmbH & Co KG. It is in retailing home goods, including furniture, housewares, and decorative accessories. It has its network of stores for this purpose, covering the United States, Canada, the UAE, Singapore, Peru, and many other countries.
The Segal honeymooners decided to sell home furnishings after vacationing in the Caribbean, where they saw similar stores. The idea seemed to them very successful, and the couple immediately set about its implementation. A family friend came up with the name for the company. He suggested calling the startup Barrel and Crate, but the words were swapped for harmony. Unusual, at first glance, the name became the basis for the logo. It hints that all goods are delivered from abroad – they are directly imported in barrels and crates. The entrepreneurs decorated the first storefront with upside-down shipping containers and wood chips to emphasize the concept.
Crate & Barrel has a simple wordmark in black. Tom Shortlidge designed it in late 1967. The Young & Rubicam employee created, in fact, one of the longest-lived logos in the U.S. retail market because it is still used in its original form. And Shortlidge was responsible not only for the brand’s visual identity but also for its advertising. For several decades, he did the latter until the baton passed to Dangel Advertising.
The author of the wordmark used Helvetica grotesque as the basis, slightly altering some of the glyphs. The designer’s creative creativity was evident in the letter “C,” formed from a perfectly circular ring. It is visually unbalanced, so it seems heavy. There’s a similar symbol in the ITC Avant Garde Gothic typeface, but that appeared a year later than the Crate & Barrel logo. Consequently, Tom Shortlidge was inspired by something other than Avant Garde when designing the “C.”
The American company was the first in the world to combine furniture and accessories to create the illusion of home interiors right in the salesrooms. After that, everyone began to copy the unusual style of the private chain of stores, which speaks of its undeniable innovation. But the original approach did not show up in the Crate & Barrel logo because it has never changed since 1967. The wordmark still has a simple inscription that looks laconic and elegant in black.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
When Tom Shortlidge created the company symbol, he used a bold Helvetica typeface designed by Swiss designers Eduard Hoffmann and Max Miedinger. The main innovation on his part is the letter “C,” which looks like a perfectly round ring with a hole in the right side. One could have assumed it was the analog of the “C” from the ITC Avant Garde Gothic if the typeface with the ultra-geometric letters had not appeared a year later than the Crate & Barrel logo. In the classic version, the lettering is black, and the background is white.