It's often said that in New Orleans, people live to eat rather than eat to live. Great food is central to the city's culture, and we're not just talking gumbo here. But when The Savvy Gourmet—a combination cooking school, kitchen supply store, and commercial catering operation—opened in 2005 in a formerly derelict auto garage, a new New Orleans food tradition was born.
Zande+Newman Design was responsible for Savvy's overall visual identity as well as the floor plan and space utilization, façade design, signage, retail graphics, lighting, fixtures, and furniture. Working with the owners, the team cooked up a down-to-earth but upscale brand, accentuating the building's historical industrial elements with bold, fresh colors and natural materials such as colored concrete, horizontal painted lathe, and birch and birch ply.
An unpretentious environmental graphics program reinforces the brand and communicates "upscale" without the gilding and French antiques typically associated with luxury in New Orleans. Baked-ceramic steel signs, dimensional aluminum "ribbon" lettering, galvanized metal, cloth banners, and digital graphics are part of the store's recipe for success. Line-screened images of food and gadgets, letterpress-inspired type, and butcher tape add to the low-key but upscale ambience.
"The winner here is clearly the strong branding program. It is attractive, well thought out, and consistent in its application. In keeping with the historic nature of the building, the designers opted for a simple exterior solution playing down the graphic identity. Carried into the interiors, the program's boldness and fresh colors enhance the rawness of the historic industrial space. The Savvy Gourmet is a smart, contemporary environment for the retail and the cooking classes, and avoids the usual New Orleans food clichés."
Adam Newman (principal in charge), Michelle Zande, Geoff Coats, Jan Bertman, Loren Stephens
Daniel Weiner, Wisznia Associates Architects
Edifice Builders (buildout); Artifice Studio (casegoods); Armadillo Signs, David Thibodeaux/Crystal Clear Graphics (installation); Cherokee Enamel Signs, Gemini (signs); Digital Industries (banners)