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The National Wins Award For Top Restaurant Branding Of 2011 [Slideshow]

Love and War earns a James Beard for its elegant mashup of turn-of-the-century imagery.

Restaurant reviewers tend to be myopic creatures: They can’t see past the food. Sure, they may remark on the service or the plating. But when was the last time you read a write-up that mentioned the menu design? Fortunately, the James Beard Foundation Awards corrects that oversight by honoring the unsung collaborators — the designers — who make dining experiences that much more enjoyable.

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This week, the ad agency Love and War won the Outstanding Graphics award for their work on Midtown Manhattan’s National Bar & Dining Rooms, whose identity is that of an old-school bistro with a quirky, hipster twist.

The New York?based Love and War worked closely with Geoffrey Zakarian (chef and officious judge on the cooking-competition TV show “Chopped?), Denihan Hospitality (owner), and Rockwell Group (restaurant-design czars) to create everything from the logos emblazoned on the staff uniforms to the ’50s-style tableware. A consistent motif in the brand design is a series of turn-of-the-century etchings that the designers deployed subtly and sparingly, placing them on the inside cover of a matchbook and the center of a drink coaster. So how’s the food” Uh, we didn’t notice.

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About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.

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