PaperSpecsGallery.com Presents: The Menu Project Book
For more than a decade Chicago foodies have attended communal dining experiences as part of the Sunday Dinner Club (www.sundaydinnerclub.com/), always searching for a new taste or texture to enjoy. And design studio Kitemath (www.kitemath.com) has been an integral part of bringing these culinary experiences to life by producing equally hand-crafted menus, going out of their way to play with different paper textures, die cuts, foils and more. Not surprisingly, the book they published celebrating these delectable print pieces is as sumptuous and unconventional as the meals – and menus – themselves.
Right from the outset you know you’re in for a treat thanks to the chunky wood-grain cover made from 111 lb. Gmund Savanna Bubinga Cover duplex laminated to 160 lb. Strathmore Premium Mahogany Double Thick Cover. Stroking that wonderfully tactile texture, you can’t help but think of an enormous hardwood table just perfect for the Sunday Dinner Club’s intimate meals.
Digitally printed in White UV ink by our good friends at O’Neil Printing (https://oneilprint.com/) are the design studio’s name, as well as a ruler, paintbrush and X-Acto knife flanking a dinner plate where your usual cutlery would be positioned, with an image of the “Menu Project” title comprised of handmade pieces at its center. This, it turns out, is actually peeking through a large die-cut window. Opening the cover reveals the full plate photograph printed on 9.5 pt. Chromolux 700 High White Cover for a fantastic shine.
Inside, each handmade menu gets the deluxe treatment with rich, moody images digitally printed on uncoated 65 lb. Mohawk Options Smooth Cover. Many of the print pieces were photographed on table tops and against other wooden backgrounds – a nice echo of this book’s own thick, wood-grain cover.
Careful attention was also paid to the way the menus inside were shot, with pieces often placed at angles or inventively styled, lending a sense of vibrancy and drama to the images.
And speaking of drama, one of my favorite touches is the way the designers inserted a few dimensional enhancements into the book, such as a weaving a length of string through a series of holes along the tines of a printed fork to recreate a menu they did using this same technique. Meanwhile, a pop-up cube menu dutifully pops up when you come to the appropriate spread, thanks in part to pages that have been duplex laminated together to supply the paper thickness necessary to support the pop-up effect.
Other little sparks of creativity, such as a vertical Bronze foil stripe printed opposite an image of a glowing electric light, demonstrate a breathtaking marriage of fine art photography (courtesy of Kelly Allison [www.kallisonphoto.com/] and Tyler Mallory [www.tylermallory.com/]) and book design.
Underscoring the handmade aspects of not just the menus featured but of this volume, “The Menu Project” book uses a Smyth-sewn binding with an exposed spine, provided by our friends at Roswell Bookbinding (https://roswellbookbinding.com/), the Brown thread running through its signatures matching its wood-grain cover.
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.