Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 27 November 2018
Nunchi is an Italian startup and the vision of Cedric Naudon, a self-confessed gastronome. This follows his ambitious project to create an entirely new creative neighbourhood of restaurants, fashion boutiques and design stores in Le Marais, Paris.
Nunchi intends to frame and connect all of Cedric Naudon’s gastronomic projects. The first of which is a reimagining of Edouard Nignon’s classic cookbook L’Heptameron des Gourmets, originally published in 1919 and now a rare collector’s item. This new edition brings the unique collection of recipes and stories to a contemporary audience by way of a unique collaboration with box, textile and paper makers, engravers and printers. This is accompanied by a second book, La Dive Cocagne, which gives the reader valuable insights into the creation of L’Heptameron des Gourmets.
Nunchi’s visual identity, designed by Swedish studio Bedow, establishes a graphic framework and continuity for all of the projects that will fall under the Nunchi brand. Both L’Heptameron des Gourmets and La Dive Cocagne serve as the first surfaces in which identity begins to reveal itself, the former being a rigorous exploration of design and artist craft and collaboration, a form of Gesamtkunstwerk, and the latter providing insight into this unique confluence of skills, also brought to life through short-form documentaries. Bedow were responsible for visual identity and the art direction and design of both books.
Bedow’s visual identity is characterised by a changing table motif and the way this intersects and shapes a custom typeface. This is rooted in the table’s role in bringing people together for discussions, social occasions and eating. In this sense, in the meeting of a gastronomic project, extensive research, making and food the table establishes a central conceptual thread that connects the activities of Nunchi. A surface to make on, to eat on and to talk around.
The intention was to develop a visual identity that was quiet but always present. Where Nunchi’s first publication displays a pronounced and remarkable level of detail, a matryoshka doll of materiality and craftsmanship, visual identity is marked by its modernity and conceptual abstraction whilst having a personality and usefulness.
The surface of the table becomes a container in which to hold images, colour and texture further emphasising the common thread of Nunchi’s activities. The form is distinctive, reductive and modern, drawing its inspirations from PK71, a simple table by Danish designer Poul Kjaerholm. Each of its variations, providing a visual variety and personality, holds true to a spatial and structural logic. This then imposes itself on a custom typeface, Nunchi Sans. Just as the implications of dimensionality, balance and surface gives a volume to the symbol, this lends a spatial quality to typeface. This is central to the concept; the meeting of people within physical space, the act of material production and revival in response to the unbinding of book and online migration of book-image, the digitisation of text and online communication.
L’Heptameron des Gourmets
Nunchi is a Korean concept that describes the subtle art and ability to listen and gauge the moods of other. The Western equivalent would be the notion of emotional intelligence. That this is then used to represent and connect material objects with historical, cultural, social and gastronomic value feels thoughtful.
L’Heptameron des Gourmets displays a material language of layers. Thresholds in which to pass and engage with the craft of each of the collaborators. In the many layers, in the sequenced nature of unboxing, much like the sequential pages of a book, a richer story and total project is constructed. That each of these is expressed by way of a short-form documentary, is smart. Where the material qualities of packaging are rendered ubiquitous by the glass of the digital screen and the interface of Youtube and Vimeo, moving image seeks to retain and impart a story of physical production.
The meeting of a meticulously crafted publication and a conceptual and reductive graphic identity forms two useful abstracts in which the space between remains open for future publications. There is a tension between object and the imposition of graphic identity on its surface, traditional material craft and the brutal and industrial forms of the graphic. Where an imprint often seeks to be minimal, here identity is central, very present and part of the character of the book, part of the story. More work by Bedow on BP&O.
Design: Bedow. Opinion: Richard Baird.
La Dive Cocagne