Joie de T: Food + Design

August 17, 2016





As an enthusiastic eater and designer, nothing satisfies me more than when the 2 worlds overlap, whether in a beautifully branded restaurant or on liquor labels at the LCBO. Today’s post is a Joie de T of sorts. It is food and design themed collection of things that combine the 2 that I’m really loving right now!


This Toronto-based multi-disciplinary consultancy is responsible for a lot of the gorgeous branding and design work that can be found in some of the city’s most-loved restaurants such as Alo, Byblos, El Catrin, Marben, and Cluny (just to name a few from their extensive client list). Evidently it wasn’t enough for Marlo Onilla, the principal and founder of Biography, to create intricate and collaborative work for eateries so he opened his own place on Dundas St. West, Ufficio. A design studio after my own gluttonous heart!


Hidden among questionable dumpling spots and Chinese grocery stores, the people behind 416 Snack Bar opened a little hipster haven, People’s Eatery. Whenever I notice a restaurant that actually put effort into their branding, I make a point to ask who was responsible. My server pointed out that the designer of the whimsical logo that adorned the door out front and the menus, Allister Lee, happened to be dining at the end of the bar at that very moment. In the icon as well as the extended logo, Lee plays with the shapes of the letters to create faces or as if there is an eye made out of the overlapping letters.


I’m both designer geeking out and have a foodie moment in anticipation of receiving a new addition to my coffee table. Whet My Appetite is a collection of branding and design in the restaurant industry that is a feast for the eyes, covering everything from signage and interior graphics to menu layouts and packaging. The overall experience of these eateries was enhanced by not only appealing to the tastebuds of their clientele, but their eyes because everyone knows that sometimes your eyes can be bigger than you stomach.


No packaging has made me want to abuse my liver more than the gorgeous, hand-painted bottles for La Fiera Mezcal! Unfortunately, I have yet to try this particular brand of tequila’s smoky cousin by Maria Villelel but I’m in love with the designs. With leftover paint from making tigre masks, Maria recruited a family of mask-painting artisans from the Montaña Baja to decorate her bottles. It really adds a personal, authentic feel to the finished piece that you’ll want to keep long after you’ve consumed every last drop of mezcal.


It’s like someone was sitting in on one of my dreams when they created the pop-up Museum of Ice Cream in New York. Creative strategist, Mary Ellis Bunn and her boyfriend founded the museum as a “passion project” and got it funded by 30 corporate sponsors. Their interior design will not only make diabetics shiver in fear but it is insanely Instagrammable. They created light fixtures from waffle cones and interactive spaces like a pit of (inedible) sprinkles that people can submerge themselves in to, a sea-saw that looks like an ice cream scooper, or you can scoop vegetable shortening laced with sugar (that has been made to look like ice cream) into “The World’s Largest Ice Cream Sundae”! If tickets weren’t already sold out, I’d hop a plane to NYC immediately.

(Photos by: George Etheredge — The New York Times/Redux)


Another New York fixture, Cha Cha Matcha is not only fun to say but they have a gorgeous Instagram feed. Their branding is artfully expressed to perfection in the expertly colour-coordinated curation. Made to match with their vintage-with-a-contemporary-twist logo (by Manufactur) and carried throughout their cafe, Their Insta-profile is awash with pink and green tropical scenes, manicured hands holding matcha fro-yo and hot beverages, and palm trees. The plant lady inside of me is very content to stare (and envy) their account all day.


Lead Photo Credit: George Etheredge/The New York Times