Whether you’re blueprinting a building, crafting a perfect entrée, starting a new business or developing a design identity, the process is never linear. When the heat is on in the kitchen (or in front of the sketchbook), creative people have to be ready to adapt to unexpected changes and spontaneous flashes of inspiration.
Atomicdust was brought on board to develop branding for the new St. Louis restaurant, Pastaria, the brainchild of three-time James Beard Award nominee Gerard Craft. The restaurant, which opened in late September, is rapidly earning accolades for an accessible but unconventional menu that mixes culinary masterpieces (roasted radish bruschetta, pappardelle with smoked pork and mascarpone) with comfortable classics (like Margherita pizza, and mac and cheese for the kids.)
Design legend Charles Eames once said, “Any time one or more things are consciously put together in a way that they can accomplish something better than they could have accomplished individually, this is an act of design.” When it came to the Pastaria project, “or more” was key.
We wanted our branding and design to embody every aspect of Gerard’s multi-dimensional vision, accounting for the restaurant’s philosophy, its in-development menu, and its space on the first floor of Clayton’s Centene building - a space that was still in the midst of design and construction when we began the project. Gerard’s passion and dynamic understanding of St. Louis’s changing culinary landscape meant that Pastaria’s shape was still evolving. And each of the elements of what would eventually become a great restaurant needed to work in harmony, enhancing each other.
It’s tempting to call a project like this, a project with a moving target, a “unique design challenge.” But aren’t all design challenges focused on moving targets? The subject, the context, the needs are always fluid and flexible, to varying degrees. And the design and design team have to be dynamic enough to move with the target.
Some things about Pastaria were certain. It was going to be unpretentious, fun and family-oriented. It was also certain to break through the expectations of what an Italian restaurant could be in St. Louis, and certain to be an immediate hit. Partway through the project, Eater magazine named Pastaria one of the most anticipated restaurants of 2012 – in the country.
Some smaller things were less certain. From interior design tweaks, menu changes and signage-approval challenges, we had to be ready to roll with the punches. With frequent visits to the restaurant site (hard hats required) and conversations with Gerard and his team, we were able to build a visual identity that, like Pastaria’s food and atmosphere, is designed to make you smile, laugh, and feel at home. Our pasta-like logos and whimsical icons bring a sense of fun and accessibility to the brand, practically (and in some cases, almost literally) shouting, “Yum!”
Gerard likes his kitchens to be at least partially visible and open to guests, so that anyone can watch the team work their magic. It’s a notable feature of Pastaria -- one that will also soon be found in the new Niche (re-opening in Clayton in November). Good design has the same openness. It’s friendly, welcoming flexibility and conversation.
Click here to see more pictures of our branding and design concepts for Pastaria.
Pastaria Website: http://pastariastl.com
Interior design: Space Architects
Photography used on website: Greg Rannells
Jazzy Loyal, copywriter for Atomicdust, helps create captivating content for websites, videos, and print materials.