Welcome back to Tuesdays with Jeffrey (preempted last week). Every Tuesday for the last month, we've spent one hour with the one and only Jeffrey "El Chod" Chodorow, looking over his shoulder as he readies, opens, and steadies his newest creation, Tanuki Tavern, and monitors the rest of the Chodoverse. Today is the penultimate edition of our little series here.
This Tuesday finds our man at the 32nd Street offices of Milton Glaser, the iconic illustrator and graphic designer. Glaser's firm is bidding for the job of creating the graphic identity of Food Parc, aka the Blade Runner project, a massive, 20,000 square foot indoor/outdoor food and beverage market being built on the ground floor of 835 Sixth Avenue, between 29th and 30th Streets. It's slated to open, according to its developer, Jules Demchick, in 8-9 months. Food Parc will be myriad "branded food stands," such as Red Farm Stand (working title), serving super casual Asian fare; The Press, a coffee and newspaper entry; and a to-be-named chocolate pudding cart. In the building's 10,000 square foot plaza, El Chod is also planning to bring back the antiques market that used to run on weekends at 26th Street. And the whole shebang will be open late, "so all you club guys have a place to go." Present and accounted for at the meeting: El Chod, Baby Zach El Chod, and Mr. Glaser; Ed Schoenfeld, the brand name authority on Chinese food; and Demchick, also the developer of Carlyle Court, Morton Square, and others.
1:00PM "We needed to make a big statement with this project so we called Milton," El Chod says by way of introduction to Milton Glaser. 1:03PM Jules, "very punctual" and "the best builder I ever saw," arrives and we begin. Glaser and his team present the first concept, which features perforated letter forms. It's very Sol Lewitt, per Chodbod, and we really must go see the three-floor Lewitt installation at Mass Moca, a "most incredible art exhibition." 1:13PM Next up, a whimsical take on Food Parc, with building block type letter forms, then v3, which is sleek and symmetrical, the words Food and Parc sitting one on top of the other.
1:19PM The Chod, he likes symmetry. "I'm not superstitious," he says, "but I love things that are symmetrical. My most successful projects have symmetrical names. China Grill. Asia de Cuba. Blue Door. Zachary Chodorow." Kobe Cl—eh, nevermind. 1:22PM The other important thing to note about V3 is that it comes with a proprietary lighting system, which "sounds expensive" to JC.
1:26PM An excellent debate ensues here, because this is ultimately a gut call, and it's based on personal preference. Do we want the most distinct, branded logo, or do we want building blocks?, is the key question. The whimsical treatment could be adapted for the other venues, with each stand and booth having a logo that animates into place, for example, on its respective plasma screen. Are we printing Food Parc bags, or does each booth have its own bags? 1:30PM In fact, each booth will have its own sticker or stamp, and the bag will be branded Food Parc. As you move through the space, you'll accumulate stickers. This last idea copyright El Chod Worldwide, 2009. Patent pending.
1:33PM Glaser: "The subtitles of corporate versus non-corporate are very complex, and are really beyond the capacity of most people. The real game is whether you can do a series of things that don't look fake, primitive, rustic—and work with surroundings, and have enough flexibility to be interesting."
1:38PM The important thing to El Chod is that the concept, not the design, works; and here our man takes the temperature of the room. Schoenfeld suggests that we make the decision right here and now to use whimsical design and contract Glaser to use the other one for Red Farm Stand, exactly the type of power grab that provokes El Chod to ingore the suggestion. 1:43PM Demchick has something here. "We did a study of all the plazas in the city, and only two work. Bryant Park and Madison Square Park, and it's because they have strong food components." More data: "The average person spends one hour and ten minutes in Bryant Park—and the average lunch break is an hour!" So, pick the strong logo, Your Royal Chodness.
1:51PM "It's always fascinating when you give someone else your idea and let them work on it." It's particularly hard when you're doing something no one has ever done before, something Chodorow specializes in. In fact, that the man himself wrote the first Asia De Cuba menu. 10 apps and 10 entrees and he sent the menu to three chefs to get their takes. "I said, calamari with chayote, hearts of palm, banana, cashews, chicory and radicchio," and the rest was up to the chefs. "The best was to communicate a new concept is to write a menu."
1:59 "Give me 24 hours. I'm going to sleep on it." 2:00PM