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This spring, I am living in Paris and taking courses for my marketing major at ESSEC Business School in Cergy, France. I chose to live in Paris and commute to school for the opportunity to be surrounded by the art and design that makes Paris legend each and every day. I can’t imagine going a full semester without doing anything design-related, so naturally I’ve found a few creative outlets – one of which being the idea to work on my typography and layout skills by redesigning menus of Parisian cafes I come across.

Menu 01: Café Mademoiselle

My first redesign was for Café Mademoiselle, a classic French bistro just a short walk away from the Jardin des Tuileries and Musée de l’Orangerie where I had spent my morning. I was drawn to this cafe by its gorgeously simple logo and beautiful terrace. After grabbing a coffee to go, I stopped by the cafe to take a few photos of the menu and exterior.

I was impressed by the simple, classy design of the menu, but immediately noticed the daily special menu stood out. The specials were printed on a small sheet of white printer paper, typed in what looked like Times New Roman, and stuck in the glass display case in front of the permanent menu. I’m sure this is because the specials change regularly, and I do appreciate the sheet was still branded with the cafe’s colors, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to reimagine a portion of the menu.

This was the first menu I redesigned, so I was making up my own rules as I went. I wanted to keep all of the same content, meaning I had to include the item descriptions and prices. I also wanted to keep this menu similar in feel to the permanent menu, so I chose similar typefaces and colors. I ended up using varying weights of Brandon Grotesque for the sans serif and Athelas for the serif typefaces.

The more I worked on the menu, the more I appreciated its simple design; the subtle cutouts in the logotype and dainty linework was both understated and elegant.

The finished result complements the permanent menu, but can also stand independently and still reflect the cafe’s brand. I loved searching for suitable typeface matches and creating similar linework patterns in this piece; it was surprisingly difficult to mimic another design this closely. I really enjoyed this redesign, and in the future I’ll try to find menus that aren’t as beautiful to start with to really push my reimagining process.