When I was offered the opportunity to design the graphics for Friends of Dorothy Lounge, I was both nervous and excited. It was set to be the Okanagan’s first LGBT2Q+ lounge and was to meet the expectations of a client with a specific vision. Anything that is intended to have longevity in the public eye is also both exciting and daunting.
However, from the beginning, the client had set the tone with respect to what the space was going to become. It was going to be a space that was equal parts luxurious and humble. A place that felt a bit like being at home in your fanciest clothes. It was going to be suitable for the LGBT2Q+ community and allies to feel comfortable being themselves without being too campy, cliché, or ostentatious. It was going to be sophisticated and rich in texture and colour.
The graphic design needed to feel like an extension of what the interior designers created and in this way it was a collaborative effort with the visions of the client held in the highest regard.
The lounge name would influence aspects of the design. The client came up with the name Friends of Dorothy Lounge as a nod to the past and a tribute to how far we’ve come as a community.
To be a “Friend of Dorothy” was historically used as a secret euphemism for identifying one’s sexual orientation without being outed to others that weren’t in the know. There are many legends surrounding the origins of the term. Over the years these legends have included stories about Dorothy Parker (an ally, activist, screenwriter, and poet), Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and Judy Garland who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz movie.
When someone experiences Friends of Dorothy Lounge they may notice design elements from the children’s story that are subtly woven throughout. These have been translated into the graphics in terms of jewel tones of ruby, emerald, and robin egg blue.
Florals of the 17th century were a big inspiration for the logo married with the irreverent style of a punk chic aesthetic. The rainbow flag also seemed too obvious for the space but needed to be hinted at much like the secret code words by which the lounge is named. So the design challenge was….make a logo that has the luxuriously frivolous qualities of a 17th-century floral painting, the irreverent qualities of punk rock, and the colour palette of Pride without being too obvious. No easy task.
The logo design solution came together as a truly collaborative effort. As with any design process, a few duds were developed before reaching the final artwork. But by the end of the process, we were all gravitating towards a floral design that incorporated barbed wire and spray paint splotches. We knew it was something special and could see the community embracing it as a welcome addition to the repertoire of logos for bars and eateries in Kelowna.
A Glimpse Behind the Curtain: The Design Process
During the project, I joked that I had become a sort of digital florist; having created each flower individually and carefully placed them in a specific arrangement, but the thought process was quite a bit more than that. While a good amount of collaboration went into the logo, it was my task to take the direction of the client and inject some colourful subtext into the design.
While certain flowers have their own symbolic meanings I’ve identified some of the reasons behind selecting the flowers that are present in the logo. Each flower in the final design is one that could be found in the purposefully cultivated spring flower beds within our community.
The poppies are a nod to one of the trials and tribulations of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Pansies were added by the client as a cheeky way of claiming a word that is otherwise regarded as derogatory within the gay community. Roses represent love and friendship. The red peony has several symbolic meanings behind it, however, in this composition, it represents respect and prosperity.
Font selection was pretty straightforward. I was given a very neutral, modern and commanding font for use in the word “Dorothy” and instructed to find a script font that would pair well with it for the words “friends of” and “lounge”. I chose a font called Neonoir for its handwriting-meets-neon-sign qualities that are reminiscent of a dive punk bar aesthetic.
Adding the LGBT2Q+ flavour to the logo in a way that is less obvious than a rainbow flag was a challenge as well. A closer look at the logo shows a multitude of hues that can be found in many Pride flags. Collectively the digital bouquet growing through barbed wire represents the perseverance of a community that has historically faced discrimination, incarceration and violence. It is a celebration of how far we’ve come as a community and a reminder of the struggles people faced in getting us to where we are now.
The final touch on the logo was the spray paint splotch with drip lines. This helped to tie in more of the punk chic concept and mimic some of the interior design elements that looked like works of art tagged with graffiti. An irreverent stamp on an otherwise serious logo as a way of saying life’s too short to take everything so seriously.
In the end, the Friends of Dorothy Lounge logo is something that hasn’t been done before. From a graphic design perspective, it breaks all the rules of typical logo design, but it works for its purpose in that it is unique, eye-catching, symbolic, and just rebellious enough to pique the interest of passersby.
Chris Bingham is the Owner Proprietor of Cyan Bold Design
Friends of Dorothy Lounge is located at 315 Lawrence Avenue, Kelowna, BC
For hours of operation and contact info visit: FODLounge.com
Logo design images courtesy of Friends of Dorothy Lounge