New Compartés chocolate store designed by Kelly Wearstler melds Jay Gatsby with Emerald City

Compartés chocolate store designed by Kelly Wearstler

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I’m certainly a sucker for beautiful design. Los Angeles based chocolatier Jonathan Graham, founder of designer chocolate brand Compartés, teamed up with Kelly Wearstler for a newly designed shop in Century City. The result is one of the most elegant candy stores I’ve ever seen, made of antique brass and imported Italian marble everywhere.

Beyond the eye-catching patinaed copper exterior, the new Compartes shop (designed by one of Architectural Digest’s top interior designers in the world, Kelly Wearstler) features hand plastered walls in the style of the most beloved Italian architects, custom arched ceilings, custom hand painted tiles, custom light fixtures made from Onyx and plenty of brass.

It also doesn’t hurt that his chocolates are some of the best (I highly recommend the Love Nuts) and that he serves a “frozen hot chocolate,” which is described as a mix of “soft serve ice cream and milkshake and rich european style thick hot chocolate rolled into one.” Sounds amazing.

Compartés chocolate store designed by Kelly Wearstler

Compartés chocolate store designed by Kelly Wearstler

Compartes Chocolatier
10250 Santa Monica Blvd #1625
Westfield Century City Mall

September 5, 2017 / By

Get high to Sigur Rós thanks to Lord Jones’ Sigurberry Gumdrops

Sigur Rós and Lord Jones Sigurberry Gumdrops

Getting high and listening to Sigur Rós is an obvious combination and the group themselves seem to agree. Last week they released a new collaboration with Lord Jones, a boutique maker of cannabis infused products, creating the Sigurberry, a THC infused gumdrop made from natural ingredients.

Sigur Rós and Lord Jones come together to bring you cannabis-infused gumdrops inspired by the flavors of foraged Icelandic berries~wild blackberries, strawberries and blueberries, infused with the world’s finest cannabis blends. This limited edition product collaboration includes a proprietary terpene blend designed to provide a calming sense of well being inspired by the music of Sigur Rós.

The limited-edition offerings come as a box of nine pieces bearing a Sigur Rós crest created by london-based illustrator Andrew Rae. I love the beautiful blue color of the box, which offsets the illustration and gold leaf, as well as the gold lining of the inside of the packaging. It’s exciting seeing marijuana based products leaving the world of stoner culture and becoming more mainstream.

April 17, 2017 / By

Restaurant A.T, where chef Atsushi Tanaka melds eating with design

Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

The officially unofficial tagline of the site for the last ten years has been, “Eat. Drink. Design.” These are the elements that I’ve focused on to ensure a happy and healthy life. (Well, happy at the very least.) I enjoy the phrase because of it’s simplicity yet each word has a nearly endless depth of meaning. And, for me, these ideas are intertwined.

For example: I’ve had nights where a few glasses of whiskey late at night brought an epiphany on a branding project, which I imagine to be fueled by intoxication. Or, I’ve spent a night figuring out the right blends of alcohol, mixers, ice, etc. to create a fantastic cocktail, finding the right balance, designing a drink. These three functions are me at my simplest: designing what we consumed and consuming what is designed.

Often the “Eat” and “Design” are more abstractly related. How do they come together and what does designed eating manifest?

That’s what Atsushi Tanaka is doing with his menu at Restaurant A.T in Paris. Kyle surprised me with a visit, treating us to a 12 course tasting menu that blew my mind thanks to the chef’s ability to create visually stunning dishes with flavors that were unlike any I’d ever tasted before.

Here’s a breakdown of the dishes and the way I view food and design coming together.


Leek / Brown Butter

Image at top of post.

This was an optically stunning way to start the meal. Visually my mind reads this as “purple, flowers, pink dust, bite-size form factor… this must be something sweet.” To start, Chef Tanaka visually tricks your brain because this is a leek filled with oniony flavor made richer by a drizzle of brown butter sauce on top.

One other brilliant thing the restaurant does is hand out—or not hand out—cutlery for each course so you know exactly how you need to eat each dish. This dish came with nothing, implying that you grab it with your fingers and pop it in your mouth. Such a fun dish.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

White Asparagus/Oyster

Love this dish because of the simplicity, both in presentation and flavor. The white asparagus was dotted with an oyster sauce… and it could have been left that way. Instead you’re being presented an image of spring freshness thanks to the inclusion of the tiny yellow flower petals. The wax paper is also interesting because it adds some texture to the dish overall but probably also works functionally by keeping the asparagus in place as it’s carried to the table.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Beetroot

Well, sadly, this dish doesn’t win any visual awards, but where it did earn marks was with the way it smelled. The beets were served two ways: Pureed into a logo shape on a disc (top right corner of photo) which was a bit clumsy, and then roasted and smoked on a bed of juniper leaves. When the dishes were brought out the room began smelling of smokey juniper, making everyone’s heads lift in unison, sniffing at the air and trying to discern what was headed their direction.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Ceviche of Squid / Yuzu

This is what all dishes called “ceviche of squid” should look like: a spring inspired palette, fresh herbs, the yuzu coloring the broth a pale gold. It honestly reminded me of an Easter basket, which may have also been informed by the size of the vessel it was served in. It was just the right size to fit into the palm of your hand.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Pieurotes / Poultry / Spider Crab

I’m a sucker for mushrooms which is what a pieurote is. This soup instantly made my mouth water. This easily could have been a brown broth with brown and tan mushrooms and it wouldn’t have been visually appealing. Chef Tanaka perked it up a bit with some greens and a smart choice of a blue bowl.

From a taste perspective this was one of my favorites because the broth was made from a mix of chicken and crab which made for an intensely powerful flavor.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Camouflage: Arctic Char / Juniper / Parsley

Camouflage, from what Kyle told me, is something of the chef’s signature dish. The shards of green dusted with white are meant to conceal the dishes secret: there’s a delicious bed of arctic char hiding underneath waiting to be uncovered. I didn’t do a great job capturing the height of the camouflage but I thought it was so fun exploring this dish, uncovering more and more depth.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Beef / Jerusalem Artichoke / Hay

I don’t think I had equated beef tartare with love until I had this dish. When I saw this dish a lot of stereotypical imagery popped into my head, “red means love, leaves look like hearts, the white artichoke slivers look like meringue cupcake decorations.” Visually it read to me like a dish you would serve someone on Valentine’s Day, which in my brain is very sweet and heart-warming. There’s also a lot of warm reds, golds, and purples coming together to form a warm hued palette.

From a flavor perspective this was bonkers because the beef tartare was smoked with the hay. I now want all of my foods to be smoked, thanks.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Scallop / Celeriac / Dill

The chef has now taken us from Camouflage—which had a super green palette—to the tartare—which was warmer hued—and now to the scallop dish, which has a very light, creamy tone to it. If you go back to the first image and scroll back through, you’ll see that each dish is visually differentiated from the ones before and after it, which makes each feel like it’s own unique experience. Chef Tanaka is designing a visual story that your brain is tracking with each dish, and because the dishes come every 10 to 15 minutes or so, they each need to feel like they have their own identity.

As for this dish, scallops are the best so this was amazing.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Turbot / Spring Onion / Cockles

With the turbot dish (Turbot is the fish.) he’s now melded both the green and cream colored palettes which is nice to see. The fish is lightly dusted with the green which acts as a bridge between the colors, unifying the color story of the dish. I also think the darker toned but neutrally colored plate was a smart choice, it allows the turbot to really pop off the plate. It’s also funny to see the green dusting on the leaves which makes their greenness even more green.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Lamb from Quercy / Oca / Black Garlic

I didn’t feel like the presentation of this plate really hit the mark. Everything feels too brown, there isn’t enough contrast on the plate, and it’s a bit disjointed in the placement of objects. Maybe if the plate had been a light blue or even a pinkish hue it would have read better? And maybe if the food and been centered more tightly on the plate it would have read as a better union?

That said, my lamb was cooked to perfection: I couldn’t have asked for a better cut. It was especially nice mixing it in with the black garlic that dotted the plate. What was also nice was the slivers of ginger that sat on top of the oca halves which gave it a bit of tartness.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Hinoki / Pepper of Jamaique / Blackberry

I posted an image of this on my socials as a preview to this post because this dessert was so out there. I mean: it’s a grey, monochromatic dish! Yet I’m so captivated by it and honestly surprised that I wanted to eat it. If I told you “I had the most amazing grey stuff for dessert.” you’d think I was crazy. But, when you see it, you get sucked into its intrigue and mystery. My first impression is that it looked like the chef had scooped up a bit of the moon and placed it on my plate.

I also have to mention that the flavor of the ice cream was of hinoki wood and pepper. It was insane. Mixed together with the blackberry it was a truly phenomenal flavor profile.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Sorrel / Lovbage / Avocado

Which takes us to our final dish, a dessert that smelled as green as it looked. Literally you could smell an earthy green enter the room as the dishes arrived. I like that Chef Tanaka ended with this for two reasons. First, it was the antithesis of the last dish. If the last dish was a scoop of the moon, this was a scoop of green, grassy earth. It helped finish his story with a breath of life. Second, it acted as a perfect palette cleanser. My mouth literally tasted like the idea of “fresh.”


I hope this helped illustrate how I see the relationship between food and design. Anything can be designed and the way food looks—the size and ergonomics of food, the plates you serve food on, the colored demarcations of what is and isn’t edible—is all a part of the way you experience food. All of those elements should be considered to make eating a truly enjoyable user experience. That’s exactly what Restaurant A.T did.

April 12, 2017 / By

Frenchie to Go campaign by Content Design Lab

One of my favorite places to grab a quick bite while I was in Paris was Frenchie to Go, a quick service cafe located in the 2nd arrondissement. The place is a bit quirky with a unique menu (a fantastic breakfast sandwich) so it makes sense to have that unique sense apply to advertising as well. The folks at Content Design Lab created some offbeat graphics and flyers that highlight the unique voice and style of FTG.

Frenchie to Go awareness campaign by Content Design Lab

Frenchie to Go awareness campaign by Content Design Lab

December 26, 2015 / By

Grand Cru Cold Brew by Stumptown

It feels like “artisanal coffee” has had it’s day in the sun but then another interesting innovation comes along and makes me feel like there’s still more there. This seems to be the case with Stumptown’s new Grand Cru Cold Brew, which is a batch of rare Gesha seeds from Honduras that have been cold brewed which brings out a “bright and clean, with notes of orange blossom, juice of papaya, and a sweet crème brûlée finish.”

Plus look at that bottle! It’s gorgeous! Does anyone know who created the graphics?

November 30, 2015 / By

Paul Eshelman Ceramic Tea Set

The American Museum of Ceramic Art has some great pieces in their collection (which you can see here) but this tea set by Paul Eshelman really caught me eye. Created in 1985 the slip cast red stoneware has a minimal Memphis vibe which I’m loving. How great would it be to bust this out after a nice dinner party?

Paul Eshelman Tea Set

November 10, 2015 / By

These Pour Souls pairs cocktails and creativity

Steering the site toward a food and drinks from a design angle, I set up a simple rule: don’t post restaurant reviews or recipes. I’m skirting close to my rules by writing about a site I recently came across called These Pour Souls. The Idaho based site shares drink recipes that are exemplified by some absolutely stunning photos, such as the Blue Moon you see above. Cocktails seem to be posted about a once a week so I’d recommend you follow them on Instagram to keep updated.

September 15, 2015 / By

Pablo & Rusty’s coffee branding by Manual

I love a good coffee branding project and the folks at Manual have continued to impress with their work for Sydney based coffee roasters, Pablo & Rusty’s. What I always find impressive is the breadth of the work as Manual has put their stamp on nearly aspect of the business, not just some business cards or a cup design.

We began by taking inspiration from the core of their business—the humble coffee sacks and stencil typography often found printed on them—and reinterpreted this as modern, sophisticated custom-drawn logotype. In our research we discovered that many of their customers and staff referred to them as ‘P&R’ for short, so we recommended building on that brand recognition and created a monogram that would work at small sizes. This duality in naming and branding provided the backbone for all print, packaging, and retail design elements.

September 8, 2015 / By

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