Rustic is a rough yet warm style that reminds us of simpler times; it’s cozy and earnest, not sprawling or clinical. It draws on the look and feel of raw materials to convey a hand-hewn, personalized quality that alludes to a subtle sophistication that values nature.
Farm-to-table restaurants are popping up everywhere and Etsy is more popular than ever, which leads us to believe that people are gravitating toward items that are handmade and experiences that are personalized.
The Rustic visual style says “one-of-a-kind” – a perfect message to consumers who are looking for a handmade, natural quality in food items and other directly consumed goods such as beauty and health products.
Rustic conveys a positive experience of trust. Knowing something is natural and handmade makes people feel safer when eating or putting something on their bodies. It also makes the products look more sophisticated and high-end than something that’s massed produced.
In a society that’s looking for a more fulfilled life, with healthier habits, more sustainability and authentic personalized experiences, this visual style is highly effective for communicating visually.
We have identified 6 design patterns which characterize Rustic style and are currently trending in direct consumption product industries, such as food and beauty.
It's common to use natural yet rough materials such as wood, linen, clay tiles or stone in the Rustic design work to create a natural, warm feeling and appearance. This helps to create a healthy and natural image for food and beauty industry products, which matches a growing trend in consumer behavior for wanting to buy and consume organic and healthier products.
This Rawganical packaging designed by a student trio from Denmark uses wood for the packaging design of its lotion. This suggests that the product is organic and is made with pure ingredients. It also gives a sense that the product is of higher quality and possibly more valuable and exclusive.
Another example of natural materials used in the packaging design: Bubble Works by Zsolt Zleovszki (Hungary).
This packaging for gourmet nuts by Márica Lopes (Portugal) uses natural materials of linen and wood to transmit the message that these are hand-picked organic nuts of higher quality than the mass-produced ones.
These cute Burlap Bags were designed for Market Grown, a campaign to help local farmers Florida, United States.
The bags are made out of burlap as a way to up-cycle existing materials found at the market. The inside of the bags are lined with colorful nylon fabric so they are water-proof for fresh produce, - say the designers Catalina Rozo & Melissa Clinard.
Some restaurants also carry through clay dishes, wooden plates, stone tables and old-fashioned paper looking menus to showcase that the food is natural, handmade and thus high quality. This gives a natural, unprocessed flair to the food.
Typography choices in Rustic visual style differ between two main styles. The first is the retro serif fonts, which resemble letterpress print type and create a casual stamped look.
The second one is handmade fonts, which often also uses retro serif typography or simple crude typography. Examples include white handwritten billboards, white paint on wood or white chalk letters on the blackboards.
This Billboard was hand-drawn for a sea food restaurant Barrio Costero by Jocelyn R. and Daniela Panama (Mexico).
Rustic’s retro looking typography and illustration bring tradition back to our lives, reminding us of a time when things were real, not plastic.
Another example: Wall for Eat Drink Americano by Peter Greco (USA).
The handmade, imperfect aspect of Rustic’s typography gives a sense of personalized services and products. It suggests better quality and stepping away from the mass industrial production that feels artificial to today’s consumers. The imperfections that imitate traditional printing techniques create this same effect.
Imperfection and even outright ugliness—the quirky, the messy and the clearly flawed—are taking on new appeal in a world that’s become all too polished or mass-produced. The imperfect is coming to feel more authentic, and also more comforting and meaningful. - JTW Worldwide
This visual identity designed for the El Camino food truck by Saavy Studio (Mexico) is a great example to showcase how handmade typography works on different supports. It surely transmits a message of warmth and personal experience.
Rustic’s typography brings a sense of comfort and is a great advantage for brands that want to create the meaningful experience consumers are searching for.
The illustrations used in the rustic design work often imitate the look of vintage wood engravings, which frequently featured animals and other natural elements as themes. This type of illustration also spotlights the natural textures, creating wood patterns that complete the Rustic look.
This illustration made for the Nordic Butcher, a specialty meat shop, is a great example of how the wood engraved look is transferred into the design. The texturized and one-colored illustration, using animal themes, is very representative of Rustic.
Here we can also see the textured print, again, resembling more traditional and old-fashioned printing techniques.
“(...) the restaurant wants to project a more robust picture, industrial and refined at the same time. An image that represents the authenticity and primary bases of the Canadian culinary culture,” say the designers of Jeremy Hall.
The growth of image-based platforms, such as Instagram, have re-introduced a retro look into contemporary photography, having a particularly big influence on food photography.
This popular vintage look appeals to the search for quality and meaning by bringing back familiar traditions and mixing them with new ones.
Retro-looking photographic images that show the products surrounded by natural elements or in a natural environment convey the rustic experience in an effective way.
This photo for O’Lumitree by Victoria Jung (Singapore) is a good example.
Rustic uses photography and natural materials that appear rich to the eye. The extensive use of photography in these design projects appeals to other senses too - communicating smells, textures, tastes - conveying a clear message about the quality and organic feel of the overall look. Retro colors for photography creates a sense of tradition.
Rustic’s primary color palette includes neutrals such as brown, black and white.
You won’t find bright hues or colors that scream glam, glitz or drama. The shades found in Rustic speak plainly - they’re soft, cozy, natural-feeling and humble.
Aside from the neutral and organic tones, Rustic uses earthy colors such as toned-down reds and oranges. These colors are mainly used for the food industry.
Green is also part of the palette, particularly popular in the organic beauty industry.
Food & Beverage