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Nicole LaFave is the creative who set up Design Womb, an independent branding and graphic design studio based in Chicago. With an industry portfolio covering food, restaurant & beverage, beauty & fashion, technology & electronics in addition to individual clients the capabilities of this company are immediately clear. Having recently moved from San Francisco, Design Womb has tackled several projects across the globe. Here at it was Design Womb’s work for Indian restaurant Curry Up Now which caught our eye.

Using vibrant design to highlight the tantalising tradition of Indian street foods this re-brand also emphasizes alternative dietary options such as gluten-free. We spoke to Nicole LaFave to find out more about Curry Up Now and the story of Design Womb…

Curry Up Now logo design | Photo credit: Nicole LaFave

Design Womb is your graphic design studio; what is the ethos behind your company?

We believe in beautiful and utilitarian design. I am a real person, with real feelings and care a lot about the quality of work I am putting out there. I try to remain accessible to everyone and keep my focus on a project’s individually and its proper custom solution rather than follow a certain style or trend too closely. Our clients are partners-in-crime and eventually (usually) considered friends and family. There’s no mistaking that if they do well, Design Womb does well, so it is a win-win situation.

Your collaboration with Curry Up Now resulted in bold, vibrant and spectacularly striking menus. How did this project come about?

Design Womb has been working with and watched Curry Up Now grow rapidly over the last handful of years. When we jumped in and completed the branding, the trucks started to multiply and business took off. The quick-serve food truck business quickly launched into the brick-and-mortar world and with that came full menus. The menu and food oozes bold and vibrant personality, so it was natural that the menus would be easy to use, bright and playful.

Curry Up Now mobile food truck | Photo credit: Michelle Edmunds

Curry Up Now menu | Photo credit: Nicole LaFave

Curry Up Now encompasses the tradition of Indian street foods whilst blending in the diversity that is vegetarian and gluten-free options; in what way did such elements influence your designs?

This is always a sensitive topic for me when helping a client design a menu, because I follow a gluten-free and dairy/egg-free diet due to food allergies. I think Indian food is one cuisine that lends itself well to people that follow specific diets due to beliefs, preferences and restrictions. We created a key that indicates items as gluten-free or vegan on each menu, as well as a full vegan and a full gluten-free menu, so no matter what you are looking at you can get a quick idea of what would be safe based on your dietary requirements or restrictions.

Which area of design is your favorite?

I just moved to the Windy City (Chicago) from San Francisco, and I am really drawn to the food and restaurant scene. I have a soft spot for food-related projects in general, be it branding a restaurant, a food truck or a product. I can’t wait to tap into some of the Chicago food projects now that I am settled. There is so much going on in this industry here.

While I love food I also find myself really enjoying the fashion, beauty and consumer electronic world of brand identity and packaging. I love being a part of building a brand from the ground up and taking something from an idea down to the little details, website, and collateral later. I would say some of my favorite types of projects tend to be packaging these days.

Drums & Crumbs | Photo credit: Nicole LaFave

What is your next project? Any chance we can get a sneak preview?

How to pick! I can try to name a few. I have many great things in the mix right now and I am very fortunate that I get to work with such great people.

Whistle for dogs just made its big launch announcement and I have been working on the package design with the team in San Francisco. Great people over there, and such a fun product that any dog owner should check out. Drums & Crumbs is growing and gearing up to launch in full with its Southern cuisine food truck. Their project is about to go up on Kickstarter soon. This is also a great project to support if you love quality & mobile food. (Watch for it & help them!)

Kama Food Lab is a fresh-serve food truck concept in the mix that will hit the streets in the Bay Area and Johnny Doughnuts is making its big debut as we speak, so I look forward to sharing more of that branding project soon. Sabor Brasil is getting close to hitting the printer with their new freshly designed flexible packaging pouches. These are gluten-free delicious Brazilian cheese rolls. Yummy!

Pantry House, based out of Santa Cruz, has made a soft debut at farmer’s markets in California with its delicious sauces, jams, mustards and pickles. Isabel is up to some awesome stuff and Design Womb is so happy to be a part of the project from the branding all the way through packaging and website which is in progress. I recommend getting your hands on her horseradish mustard. (email her until the site goes up! and visit the Pantry House Instagram page)

Pantry House | Photo credit: Nicole LaFave

Outside of the food world, I am diving into a full new brand of vegan all-natural skincare called Jules & Esther, which is launching out of Louisiana this summer/fall and a re-brand of a natural skincare line in California. I am also working on a re-brand for an awesome fashion application and a very helpful fitness application, but we’ll save those two for next time.

Speaking to Nicole LaFave has given us a fantastic insight into Design Womb’s philosophy, detailing the importance of brand development and consumer vision. Design Womb offers to “identify opportunities that will enhance your ideas and bring your brand to life”, a notion that is firmly emphasised in the studio’s work, both past and present.

See more from Design Womb’s impressive portfolio HERE.