Connecting and supporting museums and restaurants during COVID-19

Tanvi Baghele
TylerGAID
Published in
13 min readDec 10, 2020

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Four takes on the same concept by Ethan Carrol, Tanvi Baghele, Aulona Noka, and Djimon Wilkins (clockwise)

The problem: Restaurant design during COVID

The restaurant design project is a long-standing tradition of Tyler School of Art & Architecture’s Graphic and Interactive Design program. However, this year, we had to deal with a complex twist: with the advent of COVID-19 and the vast amount of complications that come with it, how could we still create a profitable and entertaining eating experience? While some restaurants can make do with delivery and takeout options, there are drawbacks to eating these meals at home. The experience of the dining room, the ambiance, the service, the cutlery, the menu, and the plating all make dining-out special. When that same food is unceremoniously thrown in plastic containers, the magic is gone. Along with restaurants, many other long-standing local institutions are suffering, and perhaps our restaurant concept could be an opportunity to benefit them as well.

The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia

Our concept for a museum and restaurant collaboration was created in order to help smaller, underfunded museums survive COVID-19. The American Alliance of Museums estimated that museums in the U.S. are losing $33 million per day because of coronavirus-related closures. Since fewer visitors are able to visit while still feeling safe, our company would bring the museum experience home.

In an open letter, the American Alliance of Museums estimated that without significant financial assistance, as many as 30% of the country’s museums — mostly in small and rural communities — will not reopen. Museums provide invaluable experiences for people of all ages. The letter also stated that 97% of Americans believe that museums are educational assets, and 89% believe that museums contribute important economic benefits to their community.

Research

For our research, we explored different museums, both in the Philadelphia region and elsewhere, and looked at common themes in their logo and branding. We drew inspiration from various museums and cafes when deciding how we wanted our individual brands to look. We also drew inspiration from children’s museums when writing the copy for our website, as many museums follow the guideline of using 3rd-grade reading-level text on descriptions for their displays.

our logo research

Through our research, we discovered the intended audience for our restaurant. Our user personas represent the type of people that would be interested in our museum-partnered restaurant. We could refer back to these personas as we were designing.

Our user personas

Our Process

Our initial dilemma for the project was whether to design for one large museum that has a large scope of subjects or to devote our efforts to multiple smaller museums.

initial brainstorming

Idea #1: If we focused on a larger institution, we would have meals and activities that related to specific departments within that museum and each member of our group could tackle a different area. An example could be the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or perhaps the Franklin Institute.

Idea #2: If we chose to focus on multiple smaller museums, each museum would have their own specials and activities, and each member of our team could delve deeper into the museum that we are designing for.

For both concepts, our company would have a central logo and branding that would be applicable to all of the museums that we would partner with. In the end, we decided to focus on multiple smaller museums that would rotate on a monthly basis. We decided on this concept because it would support institutions that have less funding and therefore would suffer more under COVID restrictions, which stays true to our original mission.

  • Potential company names: Museum Meals, Eat & Learn, To-go Gallery, Edible Exhibits, Museum to-go, Ancient Entrees, Explore and Eat, Museum Muses, Philadelphia Phood (food), Sight & Bite, The Taste of History, Museum Munchies, Ancient, Scholar, Embalm, Explore, Artifact/ Artefact, Relic, Antiquity, Trace / Traces, Recovered Vestige

We had a wide range of names and ideas for our restaurant concept, but we settled on Edible Exhibits or Site and Bite for the two final names. Many of our names seemed more adult and sophisticated, which didn’t align with our user personas. Our concept would cater to children and families, so we wanted a playful and engaging name. Each of us designed a logo, packaging, a website, and educational materials for our restaurant concept. We decided to each design special packaging that would relate to the museum we chose.

The Solution

Our mission with this restaurant concept is to bring business to museums that have been forced to close or alter operations due to COVID and allow people who are bored at home to experience the educational entertainment of museums again. The restaurant would make intriguing themed meals, while the museums would provide educational materials that would be included in each order.

Tanvi:

Style tile and responsive logos for the Edible Exhibits brand

One of the challenges of designing my logo for Edible Exhibits was that I could not be specific to one museum, since our company would cater to a wide variety of institutions, all with their own specialties. A common thread that I chose to take hold of, however, was a frame. A frame helps highlight an object and separate it from its surroundings, and it often does not stand alone. The frame is extremely flexible and can be applied to many things, which is why I thought it was appropriate for this restaurant and its mission.

Initial logo sketches

At first, I kept my frame quite simple, but as I started to add detail and embellishments to make it stand out I realized it may relate too much to the museums and not the restaurant. To combat this I changed the details in the frame to be fruits and vegetables, namely carrots, beetroots, and oranges. These elements add an extra layer of meaning and interest to my logo, and they can also be separated from the frame to create patterns, which I utilized throughout the branding.

Desktop and mobile version of the home page

When creating the website and ordering system, I really wanted to stick to the kid-friendly aspect of the brand, so I chose to use a lot of big blocks of color and soft typography. The navigation options on the website are limited, so that it is straightforward and easy to use, even for a kid, and the options are color-coded for extra clarity.

Desktop and mobile version of the information page for Morris Arboretum
Menu and ordering system for Edible Exhibits
Initial sketches for packaging

For my packaging and educational posters, I chose to design for the Morris Arboretum, a long-standing Philadelphia Institution. The specialty items that relate to this museum are the Exotic Fruit Salad and Rose Ice Cream. As I was designing the packaging, I wanted to include my logo in some way, but I didn’t just want to stick it on every component and call it a day. I chose to allude to the logo by using the frame silhouette for the labels on the containers, and well as the informational postcards that are included with each meal. For the postcards, I found images of flowers that would appear in the Arboretum and added illustrations to them in the same monoline style that is featured throughout my brand. I utilized the pattern I had created using components from the logo (with the addition of a few extra elements) in my packaging as well, to create a cohesive aesthetic.

Packaging for Exotic Fruit Salad, Rose Ice Cream, and the informational postcards

Ethan:

Initial logo sketches

As I came up with thumbnails for the Site and Bite logo I wanted to make sure that I kept our key audience in mind. Making sure that my logo was fun and family-friendly, I came up with an animated, energetic character to represent my brand. This character is a museum with arms and legs, eager to get his food as he is depicted running and holding a fork and knife in hand. On the left side of my playful character, I display the brand name in a soft, hand-drawn style that lets the viewer feel welcomed. As for the colors I kept it minimal with only orange and a deep cerulean blue. This logo is meant to function for all of Site and Bite’s featured museums, so I was careful not to hone in on one single museum and its themes.

First draft for logo
The logotype and the mascot can be separated for responsive applications
Interactions and animations for mobile version of the Site and Bite website

When I designed my website I wanted to keep it simple and easy to navigate. I used more vibrant and eye-catching colors to keep the viewer interested. I tried to keep it uncomplicated by only including the necessary components.

Packaging for the Chocolate Insects, Spider Web cotton candy, and posters

For my packaging, I wanted to really ramp up the illustrations to get the children more engaged. On the front and back of my packaging for the Spider Web Cotton Candy, I included a fun little spider character that swings down from the cotton candy above him as he eats the cotton candy. The background spiderwebs, blue raspberries, cherries, and the tufts of cotton candy were all hand-drawn to create a more unique design. I did the same for my Chocolate Insects packaging, hand drawing the pattern that fills the sides of the box and the cricket character that is seen happily consuming his chocolates. The carrier box I designed was simple and to-the-point, I created a pattern out of the character in my logo with the colors used in my website.

Aulona:

Style tile for the brand

When creating my logo for Edible Exhibits I wanted to highlight that it’s family-friendly and neutral for all kinds of museums. In the beginning stages of my logo process, I researched many museum logos along with restaurant logos with a fun and friendly tone to them. The biggest challenge was to make sure the logo doesn’t specifically pertain to one museum. With this in mind, I came up with the idea of creating a typographic logo that encapsulates the concept of our brand through the colors and misplacement of the letters. In my early sketches, I created a mascot for the brand. Although I decided to go with a typographic logo, I still wanted to bring that aspect back. For my responsive logo, I decided to create a mascot using the letters “e” from our brand’s name into the eyes of a smiling face with its tongue out as if it just ate some of our scrumptious meals.

When designing the website I made sure to implement all of the fun aspects of my logo. Some design elements I created include a simple illustrated pattern and wavy shapes to immerse the visitor as they go from one page to another. When creating the pattern I wanted to focus on elements that are typically found in museums such as a dinosaur skull, butterfly, vase, and a fossil along with additional shapes and wavy designs. This pattern emphasizes the concept of Edible Exhibits and brings the brand to life.

For my packaging, I decided to use the misplacement text style that is in my logo in the names of the packages. I also included my pattern throughout the packaging labels to stay consistent and cohesive. The mini-poster was created to showcase the partnership of Edible Exhibits and Mutter Museum displaying educational facts and the museum’s skull exhibit. The simple linework is carried throughout the entire design and creates a fun and friendly feel that is approachable for the whole family.

Djimon:

Main logo and text lockup
Responsive logos
Style tile for the brand

When I first started designing the logo for Edible Exhibits, I always felt that a dinosaur would be a great fit. I sketched dinosaurs in a variety of different poses and shapes in order to fit with the concept. Upon receiving critiques on how the logo needed to be simplified, I moved towards taking the dinosaurian shape and allowing it to mirror the letter ‘e’. This choice allowed the logo drafts produced later on to take on the presence of an icon. Through smoothing out edges and homing in on how the logo interacted with the restaurant name and the personality, my final Edible Exhibits logo was created. The logo’s responsiveness comes into effect in the variety of sizes and forms it can take. At its largest, the logo has a long neck and Edible Exhibits rests within its letter ‘e’ shape. The medium size shrinks the icon down and moves it to the left of the stacked title. The smallest form is simply the icon of the dinosaur itself.

The website design evolved immensely to accurately portray the personality of Edible Exhibits throughout the process. One of the most notable design choices implemented here was the addition of illustrations. Two sets of illustrations were utilized on the pages of the website. The first is a black color set meant to mark each specific museum included. The other set consisted of brighter, stylized illustrations representing the various museums such as a Tyrannosaurus, human skull, bird, and butterfly along with several other dinosaurs to be spread throughout the site. These illustrations accentuated the vibrancy of the brand and allowed Edible Exhibits to come to life the second they were implemented.

The packaging of Edible Exhibits was focused on bringing the illustrations in to mesh fun with education. While designing the multicolored illustrations of the dinosaurs, I strove to create images that were stylized but still maintained certain realistic qualities of the animals. Small nods to scientific accuracy can be seen in the pycnofiber or hairlike filaments on the pterosaurs underbelly and the feathers running down the neck of the raptor. These design choices were applied to draw in interest from kids who like dinosaurs and vibrant colors along with the adults intrigued by the subtle details. The black museum illustrations were drawn with more detail to add more significance to the museums they represented. When placed onto the packaging in a pattern it depicts the brand mission of working with several museums. The special-order box was made to look like the head of a dinosaur. The mini-poster was created in order to showcase a part of the Academy of Natural Sciences and connect it with Edible Exhibits. Although it has more detail, the style connects it to the other brand illustrations utilized and provides a cohesive brand identity for Edible Exhibits.

Credits:
Project Manager and Designer: Tanvi Baghele
Production Manager and Designer: Aulona Noka
Research/Creative lead and Designer:
Ethan Carrol
Presenter and Designer:
Djimon Wilkins
Professor:
Jenny Kowalski, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University

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