Nel Centro means “in the center” in Italian. It’s a perfect appellation for this restaurant located in the heart of Portland’s downtown theater district. Connected physically and stylistically with the adjacent boutique Hotel Modera, this modern yet warm space caters to business people, hotel guests, theater-goers and urban taste-makers with its French and Italian Riviera-inspired cuisine, bustling bar scene and spacious outdoor patio with fire pits.
Chef-restaurateur David Machado tapped our familiarity with Italian culture and language to consult on both naming and branding of Nel Centro. His request was simple. Could we develop a look and feel to match the restaurant’s modern, neutral tones and sophisticated urbanity?
Our solution uses the visual language of both nature and artisanal craft. We drew the simple silhouette of an olive tree and placed it within a square that references the square planters of Nel Centro’s courtyard patio. All that is set within a larger square of a coppery terra cotta, suggesting the earthenware pottery of the Mediterranean and reflecting the copper lighting fixtures found in Nel Centro’s bar. Another source of inspiration comes from copper cookware, a popular choice in France and Italy.
SJD developed a comprehensive identity system, including logo, stationery, menus, signage and other collateral. Our relationship continues with the regular production of print ads, keeping Nel Centro in the forefront of discerning Portland diners’ minds.