Embracing imperfection, Juri Okita’s restaurant concept is built on the idea of reducing food waste
Showcasing the beauty of wonky veg, Juri's vibrant and graphic identity perfectly matches its message of how to reduce the amount of produce that gets thrown away.
- Joey Levenson
- 4 May 2023
Food waste is a hot-button issue in today’s climate, but what if we could find a way to enjoy meals while also reducing the amount of produce that gets thrown away? That's precisely what designer Juri Okita aims to achieve with her final project for her MA Graphic Branding and Identity course at the University of the Arts London. For the project, Juri designed an identity for a restaurant concept named Wabi, hoping to synthesise disparate elements of research into her design practice. Partly inspired by burnout culture and partly inspired by food, as well as her interest in hospitality branding, Juri wanted to “show the beauty of imperfection in food waste”, she tells It’s Nice That. “And through research, I found out that one of the reasons creatives burnout is because they tend to be perfectionists,” Juri says. “So, I explored how restaurant branding could convey the idea of beauty in imperfect vegetables, to show that sometimes it’s okay not to be perfect.”
The graphic pattern of the brand was made with the ‘W’ from the Wabi logo, while the typography for the headlines deliberately strayed from traditional grids. Instead, the art direction for photography was intentionally a little messy, taken with a film camera that prevented “perfect control” over the end result. The result is a grainy, Riso-inspired effect that perfectly matches the brand essence of imperfection. Juri used Risograph printing for the brand collateral to achieve a hand-crafted appearance and vibrant colours that perfectly matched the brand's message. As Juri explains, “the overall identity of the brand was carefully chosen to convey the message of showing a negative concept in an optimistic way.”
Funnily enough, Juri's creative process involved researching consumer trends using Mintel. “I asked myself, ‘How can eating help young creatives avoid the dangers of burnout caused by overworking?’” Juri tells us. “I came up with many different routes for brand ideas as a resolution to this question which took me the longest time during the whole process.” The name of the restaurant itself, Wabi, came from the Japanese word wabi-sabi which Juri tells us “refers to the aesthetic appreciation of natural imperfection.”
It’s amazing to think this project was Juri’s first time attempting Riso, as the results are quite mesmerising. “I appreciate the creative freedom and being able to decide on using new tools like this as I can’t always try whatever I want in a commercial setting,” she says. “Especially after working in the industry for more than four years before going to grad school.” In the end, Juri produced an incredibly refined yet fun take on imperfection. Surprisingly, it’s a flawless synthesis of both food culture and burnout culture in today’s youth – a combination we had never thought to consider in the aesthetic landscape of contemporary graphic design.
GalleryJuri Okita: Wabi (Copyright © Juri Okita, 2023)
Juri Okita: Wabi (Copyright © Juri Okita, 2023)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.