Eater’s new site launched this morning (at approximately 2:15am, should you happen to have been up). It’s a complete rethinking of Eater from the ground up — a fascinating process to go through given that I’ve been living with the brand for nine years and have a considerable amount of fondness for it, as well as a lot of intractable ideas about it too. Happily, this time around the editorial side was guided by Eater editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt, while the Vox Product team brought its extraordinary experience building web brands to the table.
The process took seven months. The starting point: rethinking the brand’s visual identity. Eater has had two logos in its history. The original one is the one we launched with in 2005, conceived by BL and executed by yours truly in Photoshop to mimic restaurants too cool to print their full name on the awning:
(This logo is also where Eater’s house style of putting ~E~ around an E to signify Eater spawned from.)
In 2009, Curbed’s head of tech Eliot Shepard and Gawker graphics head extraordinaire Jim Cooke collaborated to create a real logo for Eater based on the typology in the R&L Restaurant sign that still hung above legendary Meatpacking District restaurant Florent. This time around, Ted Irvine, who oversees design for Vox Product, reached out to a handful of designers for new logo takes; we were open to a completely different approach if the right one presented itself.
I’m glad, though, that we opted to go with a refresh of the Eater logo — an approach pitched by Cory Schmitz, who did the logowork on Polygon for Vox as well. Cory took Jim and Eliot’s typeface and simplified it, preserving the essential lines, notably the unexpected drop in the A and the curves in the Es and A. (I’m sure there are fancy font geek names for these things, but I’m only an amateur font geek.)
Here’s the result:
I love it.
As the above makes clear, the design team also played around with illustrated food icons as part of the new design. Initially, I was very resistant to this idea, fearing the sort of cutesy/lazy fork-and-plate motifs that inform the look and feel of a bunch of Eater’s competitors. “If we’re going to do illustrations, we’re going to need them to be something more like a burning arm,” I joked. So Georgia Cowley, Kelsey Scherer and Dylan Lathrop (who did the illustrations) gave us a burning arm. It now adorns Eater’s homepage:
Less noticeable but equally brilliant is the work put in by that team crafting illustrated identities for each of Eater’s 26 city sites. Check out Dylan’s bats-with-breakfast-tacos look for Eater Austin, or the dog drinking a cold-pressed juice on Eater LA. I thought pulling off illustrations in a way that would fit Eater’s brand would never work — until Vox Product showed us that they did.
Love and thanks to the Vox design team. Burning Arm and Bats with Breakfast Tacos 4eva.