Absent the style of decor that tends to signify Japanese cuisine, Prairie Noodle Shop doesn’t look like a stereotypical ramen joint. While the popular noodle soup hails from Japan, the new Edmonton eatery’s offerings and overall identity take to heart the dish’s adaptability to new locations. “You see, ramen is a regional cuisine in Japan that is influenced by the agriculture and flavour preferences of wherever it’s made,” said Prairie Noodle co-founder Arden Tse in a statement. “So we decided to do just that. We created our own prairie ramen, sourcing local proteins and prairie flavours… you can’t get this ramen anywhere else in the world.”
Thus, branding and restaurant design likewise play the local angle, opting for a prairie theme centred around silhouettes of three iconic farm animals: a chicken, a cow and a pig. The logo features all three stacked to form a food pyramid–representing the main sources of protein used in the restaurant’s recipes–developed by Be Something, the multidisciplinary design, marketing and communications firm that also handled the shop’s signage and interior design.
Be Something was hired late into the process and faced a tight timeline. As a result, the firm “had to work with what was already built,” according to founder and project manager Anna Bohdanowicz, adhering to the already established positions of the kitchen, bar and bathrooms. “Essentially we were designing as it was being built,” Bohdanowicz wrote in an email interview. “Luckily, it worked out well because the client trusted us and accepted what we proposed without changes.”
Expanding on the brand identity, the interior features prairie flora and fauna throughout in the form of wall graphics and cutouts. “We wanted to play with perspectives, textures and lighting to create a cozy and interesting and dynamic prairie-themed environment,” Bohdanowicz explained. Some shapes are full cut-outs, others are partially cut “pocketed” designs with stained layers for a 3D effect; real cow hide accents add another level of tactility.
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The wood panel installations are complemented by dramatic lighting and a custom designed and crafted live-edge wood bench. According to Be Something’s case study, “[the] flat line of the horizon throughout the space is intensified through contrasts between the earthy hues of the fields and the vastness of the sky.”
Since the restaurant is mostly below ground level, signage specs were limited; instead of using the full logo, Be Something opted for a wordmark exterior sign that maximized street level visibility. Animal silhouettes decorate the front glass elevation, appearing above eye level when looking from within the restaurant, but seeming to roam at ground level when viewing from the street. At night, the shapes are illuminated with multicoloured LED lighting.
Anna Bohdanowicz – project management
Monika Plachecka – brand development
Margaret Krawecka – interior development
[Images: Ryan Heit and Anna Bohdanowicz]