Hato is a fine ramen restaurant located in Guadalajara, Mexico that touts a reserved confident brand identity and experience evocative of Japanese design aesthetics. Spearheaded by an insignia brand mark, the identity and other touchpoints from menus through packaging stays true to a high contrast black and white palette. This contrast creates a moody expression that is carried throughout the rest of the restaurant from the interiors to the food photography.

Where possible, it empowers materials to speak, as seen in the restaurant’s signage and the water carafe. This honor for materials and their beauty is a quintessential Japanese design approach.

The system is well concerted except for one aspect: the coffee carrier design. In this touchpoint, Zavala, the designer, has chosen to introduce a wood-cut illustration that’s exemplary of classic Japanese art. It features a nature scene along with other Japanese elements and icons. While beautiful, this rustic texture isn’t found elsewhere in the brand’s touchpoints except for the rawness of the interiors materials. I would have loved to see elements of this natural texture make their way into the iconography and typography to create cohesion throughout the experience.

That being the only misalignment makes for an extremely beautiful brand identity and experience. There is a lot to be proud of with this project.

Design Agency: Cocoa Branding
Art Director: Rodrigo Suárez
Designer: David Zavala
Architecture: Lázaro Estudio
Photography: Aimé González, Araceli Paz, Azahara Cortés

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