These past few weeks have been a blur as I have been super busy working on creating an identity system for Enat Kitchen as a part of Kate Bingaman-Burt’s 321 communication design class at PSU. We are working with MESO, an organization in town that helps small businesses in town become successful. We met with the clients and each student tried to create design solutions that they felt would benefit the companies the most.

Menbere showed me her kitchen, where she makes the food for Enat Kitchen fresh every day

I chose Enat because I was inspired by the owner’s story: she came to the US from Ethiopia and worked at a convenience store in North Portland for years to support her two children. She had the dream of opening a restaurant and so when the space across from the convenience store became vacant she asked the landlord every day to let her open a restaurant in the space. She didn’t have a lot of money to start a business but the landlord eventually caved and let her open the restaurant anyway. I really liked how she started with nothing and created something successful just by not giving up.

photo from Willamette Week

I drew a lot of design inspiration from the traditional crafts and artwork that I saw inside Enat Kitchen when I visited, and also from the vibrant, colorful, flavorful and healthy food that we enjoyed. She has all of her ingredients shipped from Ethiopia, except things like meat and produce which she buys locally. The food comes on a big plate with the meat, sauces and vegetables piled on top of injera bread, which is a kind of porous flat sourdough bread.

A few of the beautiful baskets found inside Enat Kitchen, which was full of inspiration.

When I first walked into Enat Kitchen, I was very inspired by the vibrant, beautiful colors and patterns that I saw everywhere in crafts and artwork from Ethiopia. I drew color, pattern and design inspiration from what I saw.

When I was thinking about how to brand Enat Kitchen, I tried to look at successful small businesses and restaurants, figure out what they are doing right and think about how I might be able to help Enat do those things for themselves. I tried help improve Enat’s image by creating something contemporary and bright that helps Enat stand apart from it’s competition. Enat is friendly, approachable, caring, simple, exciting, handmade and authentic, and I tried to create a design for them that would reflect that.

I also saw this project as a chance to experiment with using a sumi brush and ink to create unique patterns and shapes. The small icons, colors and patterns come together with the logo to create a flexible design that adapt to different applications.

Although the budget for the project is small, I decided to create this mood board for the way that I might treat the interior if they decided to redesign it in the future…

The best part of this project was exploring a different culture from my own and learning about helping restaurants and small businesses succeed. I found out from this project that I love branding- from doing the research to the final product. It was exciting to be able to present my ideas to a real client, because it made the project more meaningful.