Behind the Bijl brand and visual identity

We often get asked: what does Bijl mean and, more importantly, how do you pronounce it? Well, let's clear that up right away and also tell you a little bit about our brand. In Dutch, 'bijl' means 'axe' and this was a key inspiration for the visual identity of Bijl Architecture, designed by graphic design studio Toko in 2012.

The practice was renamed and rebranded Bijl by director and founder Melonie Bayl-Smith (previously called Liquid Architecture since 2002) and Bijl was the obvious choice. Pronounced ‘bayl’, the name comes from Melonie's Dutch grandfather, who anglicised the name to ‘Bayl’ when the family moved to Australia in the 1950s.

As well as providing the name, the Dutch connection also influenced the choice of graphic design studio; Toko is led by Dutch-born, Sydney-based graphic designers Eva Dijkstra and Michael Lugmayr.

Bijl's Andrew Lee takes a cast of the tree log

Bijl's Andrew Lee takes a cast of the tree log

The concept of the axe is a vital part of the identity of Bijl. It is a tool used to cut, shape and create, metaphorically fitting the practice of architecture perfectly. And so the cross section of a cut log was chosen as a visual image for the brand. 

"The other reason why we agreed on the log was because, when you cut a tree, in the action of cutting, you reveal things you did not know that give the tree its character and strength, and that tell its history," explains Melonie. "The process of revealing is like the process of design."

Finishing the plaster cast

Finishing the plaster cast

The team went into the forest, found a log and created a cast and rubbing, choosing a log with beautiful rings that show the years of experience that Bijl already has. 

The resulting plaster casts and framed rubbings are a talking point in the Bijl studio, while Toko also used the image in the design of the business cards, with a different part of the image on each team members’ card. Of course, as she is the heart of the business, Melonie has the heart of the log on her business card.

More on Toko

The photograph of the tree

The photograph of the tree

Bijl business cards, designed by Toko

Bijl business cards, designed by Toko

The final product - business cards designed by Toko.

The final product - business cards designed by Toko.