The name, zēro, represents a Japanese restaurant selling donburi (rice bowl) with additional items including onigiri and raw rice in packages. The entire concept of the restaurant derived from an interview with an unfamiliar individual; I interveiwed a classmate whom I have never talked to before because I thought it would be interesting to get to know about the person and challenge myself with new ideas and stories rather than interviewing a familiar individual such as a girlfriend or a family member.

Ultimately, the concept of the restaurant is selling ‘nothing but rice,’ meaning, selling food that are made out of rice. In addition, I imagine this place being very open and casual like a pop up restaurant; creating a comfortable and playful environment where people in their 20s to 30s could enjoy looking at a cute and small product like the onigiri package and being able to buy the same type of rice used at the restaurant and take it home with them.

Restaurant Branding            

The name of the brand is zero, pronounced as zeh-roh. The Japanese translation of zero is ゼロ. I tried to find the middle-ground for the name of the restaurant to be both authentic yet familar to the American consumers. By ‘authentic,’ I mean it as the name being authentic and related to Japanese culture. At the same time, I did not want the name to be purely Japanese so that it would not feel too foreign to the general public in the United States. Additionally, I wanted the name to convey the overall theme and concept of the restaurant as being ‘selling nothing but rice’ and a single grain of rice looking like an oval shaped number zero. In fact, rice is the seed of the grass species, Oryza sativa, and the ‘O’ in its name also reminded me of the number zero.

The Japanese type derived from the same typeface I used for the English version of the logo. I simply took the letterfrom of ‘r’ in the BC Alphapipe typeface (used in the English version)  and created the Japanese letterforms by slightly altering it and creating strokes that look similar to the thickness and roundness of the letterform ‘r.’

Easter egg: The East 9th Street in the address references the East Village in New York City where a lot of Japanese cuisine restaurants are located. I thought it would be appropriate and best to establish this resataurant in a neighborhood that celebrates Japanese culture and a place where it is common for people to find such cuisine.`

The idea to create a menu relying on imagery only derived from my experience of looking through menus at variety of restaurants. According to my experience, it was difficult for me to choose a specific meal on a menu with unfamilar names and list of ingredients that do not provide any visual information. Therefore, I wanted to create a menu that would simply provide an image of the food included in the menu through playful icons in hopes of helping the consumers choose something easily without having to contemplate what they want to have due to the lack of visual information. I took inspiration from the playful and cute illustrations from the packaging designs in some of the Japanese products.

Rice Bag Packaging: 11”x7”x3.5”
Onigiri (Rice Ball) Packaging: 4”x4”x1.25”

The packaging design was printed on transparent sheet of paper, vellum, to emphasize the content inside the packaging, thus, allowing the product to represent the brand rather than the brand image. In addition, I like being able to see through the packaging while maintaining some degree of obscurity to make the consumers curious and engaged.

copyright © tony kim 2019. all rights reserved.