As designers we make fun — and it’s usually the first thing we notice — of menus that use Comic Sans or Papyrus because it’s an easy critique, like shooting really ugly fish in a tiny barrel with a shotgun. Oddly enough though, we rarely praise a good menu. We probably simply enjoy the fact that we can browse through the options without being distracted by silly fonts and we don’t feel the need to comment further on it. But if you think about it, menus are the meeting point of otherwise widely celebrated design practices.
Above all, a good menu is about expertly executed typography: It has to be clear, legible (sometimes just under candle light), and representative of the cuisine. Menus are a light version of data visualization and information design: Helping the diner navigate between courses, options, and prices. Menus are big canvases, much like the album covers we mourn with such despair. Menus are tactile, allowing designers to explore materials and finishes. At a restaurant, the menu is the ultimate ambassador for the establishment’s identity: Logo front and center on the cover. A good menu adds to the overall brand experience.
But who are we kidding? A good menu should make you hungry. It should get your mouth watering. Hopefully it does it in a cool-looking way. And if it does, then you will probably find it here, on Art of the Menu.
Our goal is to showcase great menus from around the world. They can be old, they can be new. They surely have to be great. In each showcased menu the ideal structure to the post is to show one or more photos of the menu as it exists in real life along with “flat”, digital versions so that we can all take in the typography and layout details. But if we can’t find one or the other we will post at least one of the versions: photo or flat.
We welcome and encourage suggestions and submissions.
Comments are open on all posts so that you may review the menu or the restaurant, if you’ve been. And if all goes well, perhaps you might even find a new spot to eat next time you go out.
Bryony and Armin
Art of the Menu, is a division of UnderConsideration, cataloguing the underrated creativity of menus from around the world.
Art of the Menu uses Typekit to render Proxima Nova by Mark Simonson and Adelle by Type Together.
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UnderConsideration is a graphic design enterprise that runs a network of blogs, publishes books, organizes live events and judged competitions, and designs for clients.
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Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design / 2009, Rockport.
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The Word It Book: Speak Up Presents a Gallery of Interpreted Words / 2007, HOW Books.