Toronto creative agency Open designs an identity and experience for Kensington Market’s Handlebar.


Handlebar opened in Toronto’s famously eccentric Kensington Market in summer 2012. The bicycle-themed bar incorporated features of the space previously existed and emerged as an eclectic mix of old and new.

We wanted a creative agency to collaborate with and guide us (…) Open worked with us not just in the branding of Handlebar and its offerings, but also to help us create an experience and a street-level marketing campaign to target our desired clientele.

Bruce Dawson

Co-owner, Handlebar.

Open created an identity using a philosophy of adaptation and alteration.

The logo uses a simple sans serif font with added custom elements (…) Playful language and authentic Victorian imagery are overlaid with a half-tone pattern to create a modern feeling. Communication pieces also reinforce Handlebar’s spirit by referring to the history of bicycle culture Toronto has come to embrace.

Martin Beauvais

Open Partner

Using these new elements, Open created a special draft lager, The Handlebrew. They even created Handlebar’s signature shot, The Tandem, which comes on its very own coaster built for two. There’s also a poster and a direct marketing piece, a card, which was placed in the spokes of bicycles in Toronto’s downtown core.


Client: Rachel Conduit & Bruce Dawson, Handlebar

Creative Agency: Open

Partner, Creative: Martin Beauvais

Partner, Strategy: Christian Mathieu

Writers: Claire deMarco, Kate Thorneloe

Art Director: Jessica Carter

Project Lead: Anne Ngo