Experience Designer

Helping AAPI–owned restaurants establish authentic, modern visual identities that pay homage to Asian culture and history.

// Timeline: May 2021 – December 2021
// Tools: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Figma, Procreate
// Skills: Competitive analysis -> brand positioning -> brand identity design

How I contributed

Developed visual identities for AAPI–owned restaurants. Conducted brand positioning research and analysis, and created moodboards, illustrations, and digital prototypes. Designed authentic, modern brands that pay homage to Asian culture and history. No more stereotypical pagodas and dragon motifs!

Branded Smoove, a newly opened Chinatown fusion ice cream parlor. Established brand guidelines, designed a stationary set, digital and analog menus, promotional posters, social media content, and a vinyl wall graphic.

Redesigned digital TV menu for Yumpling Taiwanese Cafe in Long Island City, NY in partnership with Overice Studio.

Mindmap influencing my design decisions

Why authentic, modern branding is important for Chinese and other AAPI–owned restaurants.

The word “branding,” derived from the word “brandr,” meaning “to burn'' in the ancient Nordic language. By the 1500s, the word had come to represent the mark burned on a piece of wood, and this became the precursor of a modern brand’s logo. In the design world, the field of branding is responsible in helping to promote the visual patterns that individuals consume, and the aesthetic component of branding, including a company’s name, logo, packaging, and design, is important because these visual components are what makes a memorable impression on customers and helps brands distinguish themselves from their competitors.

In the case of Chinese restaurant branding, there is an observable and distinct difference in restaurant branding in the United States compared to restaurant branding in China, despite both serving “Chinese” cuisine. Chinese American restaurant branding is a visually distinct phenomenon unfound in China. The history of Chinese American immigration to the United States and the history of Chinese American restaurants in the United States contributes to the hybridization of traditional Chinese culture with other cultures, leading to the stereotypical branding of Chinese restaurants in regards to restaurant and menu design, colors, and decorative motifs.

Albeit steady progress in relations to the status of Asian Americans, current events taking place in 2021 have shown that there is still much stigmatization towards the Asian community and that even if not immediately apparent, visual culture can impact an individual’s perception of the world around them. Before taking visual culture for granted, including the stereotypical branding of Chinese American restaurants, however, individuals should analyze and interpret for themselves the origin of such visual concepts, and the historical implications of these concepts.

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