As many designers and creatives know switching off the analytical side of their brain is often not easy when they are out and about. Going into a restaurant is often the most rewarding of trips as it will open up a whole new place for debate and criticism. Loved ones and friends may notice that they are taking more time over the choices on the menu. Something that can seem mundane and slightly boring to the people around them. The chance to look at a menu and the graphics surrounding the restaurant can be an absolute field day for any creative.
A menu in its nature is there to tell a customer what is available at the restaurant. It can seem a very boring thing for any designer to put together as it has to convey a message very clearly and simply. More so than many as it has to include so much information for the customer, especially with a large percentage of people who are conscience of calories and allergies of foods.
I started collecting menus to partly explore what can be done on them and some of the ones I have encountered are really interesting examples of menus.
Byron hit the streets of London in 2007, with a view to answer the question posed by the fast food companies. The restaurant chain has questioned the traditional image of a eating establishment. Their so called anti-brand allows for all of the different locations to have their own image. I have been to a few in London and they have very different interior design elements. The restaurant on Shaftsbury Avenue has a shipping container for its toilets, now that’s innovative. I’m not really here to talk about the interiors of the restaurant but the same attitude has been taken on for their menus. Also I would like to thank the staff who have been kind enough for me to take these home.
Last year the brand of Byron was covered in an article in Eye magazine, it talks a lot about the brand as a whole and is an Anti Brand, with no true identity other than the name.
The Main Menu
The main menu is fully illustrated by some of the worlds best Image makers. Covering both the front and back of the menu. The company have been able to focus their ‘anti- brand’ on using the illustrations to show the monthly specials. In this instance the specials are the flaming Iceberg. The style of menu has been dictated by the design of the special. This is something I really like about the menus they produce. The fact that the restaurant has a new special burger each month allows for a chance to use it to market the menu in a different way each time.
Typographically I really like the simplicity of the content and the use of a san serif really help to make more of the contemporary feeling of the restaurant. The choice to have just a mixed of different weights of a sans serif font is really helpful to showing the contemporary side of the restaurant.
The vibrant and quirky illustration style allows for an interesting sense of look for the month. I really liked the inclusion of the flames, firefighters and the strongmen; they all point to the sense of strength needed to eat the burger as it is ‘very hot’. The use of bright colours, maybe is something that is very different to the style of the average restaurant.
The stock has almost been chosen to just be thrown away, its ephemeral. Unlike some of the thicker and laminated counterparts from pubs and chain restaurants the menu is one that i would rather take and see as a well designed piece.
The Takeaway Menu
The front of the Takeaway has a couple of different styles. The styling for the front is all about the way you would order the food. The inclusion on both is the hand drawn illustration of the phone and of the smaller details on the front of the takeaway menu fits with the contemporary style. The consistent use of the typeface from the main menu really helps to show that its all part of the same brand.
The food included is as expected for a sit in restaurant, it is some what limited because of this reason the sizing of the menu is a 4 page Business Card size. The use of the natural uncoated stock and the almost letterpress and imperfect style to the typography and imagery really fits within the anti-brand. I really like the size of the menu, its wallet size, unlike the Chinese and Pizza menus that fly in through the letterbox at home. I really like the simplicity of this menu the style of typography and the colour palette both make the menu very easy to understand and make sense of when trying to order.
He is best know for his ‘Peace for Paris’ image that hit the social media feeds on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram after the terror attacks on Paris at the end of 2015. This work is used on the feedback and comments card for the restaurant. When I saw this I didn’t really know Jean Julien’s work but after investigation, from this point I was really interested in his style of illustration.
His Website: Jean Julien
The Duo based in London have designed a number of food related designs. Particularly the design of a set of cocktail and drink related screen prints. The table card below is for the B-Rex burger the special burger in Byron last year. I was immediately drawn to this, I wouldn’t say I like yellow as a colour on its own generally, but the choice to place this on an uncoated stock along with a more washed out yellow is a good one. I really like the B-Movie styling of the typography and the use of the cut-out and die-cut areas. They help to tell the story of the whole burger. I really love the fact that the use of the flat yellow colour and then the cutouts with the scratch marks just allow them to work really well.
Their website: Crispin Finn
The Table Cards
As I have spoken about the specials dictating the menus, the collateral also is linked to the specials. The choice to have table cards is really one that highlights their own meals. The same style of imagery and colour palettes help to sell the new item on the menu. I really like the way they have been able to use the flaming iceberg as the centre piece to the table card.
As a brand I really love the way Byron presents themselves so differently from other restaurants. The Illustrators; the anti brand and the brilliant food are all reasons to return to their restaurants time and time again.
This is the start of a new series of blogs about menus. I hope to have a few more of these published over the next few weeks. If you see any interesting menus then do not hesitate to get in contact, I would love to see them.
If you have enjoyed this then do check out the Art of the Menu
Connect with me here:
© 2016 Matt Finch. All rights reserved.