Inspired by East Coast, Italian-American restaurants from the 1950’s, Formento’s blends traditional ambience and all-out hospitality with new age culinary sophistication.
Formento’s is prominently located on Randolph Street’s “Restaurant Row,” and tucked around the corner lies sister shop Nonna’s, selling made-to-order sandwiches, desserts and retail goods.
True story designed the complete brand identity, including a hand-drawn script logotype, signage, menus, stationery, website, dozens of map illustrations for their massive wine list, and packaging for a retail line of Formento’s-labeled wines and sauces.
The overhand script “F” in the logo was based on the signature of Fred Wagner Jr.
Balena is an Italian-inspired restaurant focusing on foods sourced from the farms of the Midwest. Its beverage program showcases wines from all regions of Italy, and its amaro-based cocktails are offered on a 1-to-10 scale of bitterness.
True story designed Balena’s brand identity, including the logotype and chef’s chop, menu design, to-go packaging, stationery, collateral and website.
The mnemonic upside-down “a” in the logo was inspired by early team discussions in which the name was voiced conversely as either “ba-LAY-nuh” or “ba-LEE-nuh” (the former.)
Web development by Bryan Lademann.
Historic landmark Tree Studios was established in 1894 as an artists’ colony, home to many greats, such as painter Richard Florsheim, author Edgar Rice Burroughs, actors Peter Falk and Burgess Meredith, and sculptor John Storrs.
Today, Tree Studios serves Chicago’s arts and cultural community as a space for arts-related businesses, as well as street-level shops and restaurants.
True story was enlisted to design a brand identity that would evoke Tree Studios’ origins while presenting it as a contemporary, fashionable workspace and shopping destination.
For the logo, a variety of symbol and type compositions were explored. The solution was a simplified typographic approach – rooted in history yet timeless.
Ixonos is a Finland-based technology and design firm employing a global community of designers, engineers, strategists, and innovators.
To convey Ixonos’ core brand principles to its employees, True story designed a folded poster consisting of 6 sub-compositions that, when opened, combined into one single image.
In collaboration with Colleen Arturi.
Bom Bolla was a Spanish-inspired Cava bar offering authentic pinxtos, montaditos and bocadillos in Chicago’s Wicker Park.
For their decor, Bom Bolla mashed motifs from Spanish art with punk music circa 1977.
True story designed Bom Bolla’s brand identity including logotype, signage and website. In addition, True story illustrated murals of Debbie Harry and Mick Jones that were hand-painted onto the tile walls by Right-Way. These murals became a favorite backdrop for visitors’ selfies and Instagram pics.
‘Sagrada’ icon designed by W. Craig Cooper.
Interior designers Barron & Stoll create lush experiences that make all guests feel regal, uplifted and welcome. With a traditional viewpoint, they will often throw in a few curves and introduce modern or outsider touches inspired by their travels or appreciation for art – each space telling a unique story, equally comforting and provocative.
Like their work, their brand identity consists of formal elements, presented informally. For stationery, tactile production methods including embossing and letterpress were used to reflect the luxuriousness of their work.
For their website, an immersive 3D experience was designed, encouraging users to discover their work like navigating a globe.
Web development by Workalicious.
Chicago’s Shattered Globe Theatre was started in 1991 by a small ensemble of committed artists and has since grown to more than 30 members.
For 10 years, True story provided SGT with pro bono design services, including identity design, season campaign design, print advertising, posters and postcard design for 15 plays.
Located in Bucktown, The Bristol has become a staple for Chicago’s local dining crowd, off-duty chefs, and visiting foodies looking for a great dinner or weekend brunch. Their menu features handmade pasta, charcuterie, farm-fresh produce, and a nose-to-tail approach to cooking.
The brand identity conveys their “keep it real” approach, favoring substance over decoration. For stationery and collateral, unrefined materials including kraft paper and chipboard were used to communicate humility and authenticity.
The B. Hospitality Co. restaurant group was founded in 2008 with the launch of The Bristol. Since then, the team has opened five more restaurants, each with its own fully-realized personality, each tastefully balancing the classic with the new.
Their brand identity reflects their collective personality – seasoned, confident, accessible, honest and unassuming.
mStoner develops strategic marketing and communication solutions for higher education. They are regarded as thought leaders in their industry and routinely share their intelligence through a variety of webinars, conferences and white papers.
True story has worked with mStoner for several years, providing website design concepts for over 20 schools.
The name of West Loop restaurant Sepia is a tribute to the print shop that inhabited the space from the 1890’s. That history, combined with the owner’s love for printing and photography, was the basis for Sepia’s website, which used animation and music to cinematically present the restaurant and give visitors a glimpse of the Sepia dining experience.
Ten years after the launch of the original website, True story designed a new responsive website.
True story has also designed signage, packaging, collateral and advertising for Sepia.
Set in the 1930’s, Shattered Globe Theatre’s production of “Hyde in Hollywood” tells the tale of Julian Hyde, a famous actor/director/producer with a secret. When a columnist tries to destroy him by revealing his secret, Hyde declares war. His weapon of choice – the media.
To advertise the play, lead actor Steve Key struck an expressive pose and the resulting poster was printed with references to cheap, era-specific production, including flat-tint duotones, coarse halftone dots and intentional bad registration.
Printed by Sonnenzimmer.
For Shattered Globe Theatre’s production of “Meet John Doe,” lead actor Joe Forbrich was photographed on the roof of the Chicago Cultural Center as a proxy for the play’s “City Hall.”
The poster was delivered inside a mock newspaper that served two purposes — it was an advertisement that set up the action of the play, and it was used within the play as a prop.
The plot: during the Depression, a reporter writes a fictitious column about a man named “John Doe” who is distraught over America’s neglect of the little people. The story quickly spreads, and everyone wants to find this John Doe. To save her job, the reporter enlists a homeless man to portray Doe. Unwittingly, her phony story propels him to become a populist hero, a presidential candidate, and a pawn of big business.
To help promote the play, campaign buttons were made, encouraging people to visit the website.
The School of Engineering at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has an undergraduate enrollment of 2,400 students, enrolled across several departments. The website for SoE was a chaotic mix of fonts, colors and styles, with each department designing its own website.
SoE retained True story to refresh their website UI and standardize the school’s websites with a clear typographic hierarchy, uniform grid, and a color palette for the departments.
Web development by Mathematic Arts.
Every so often, we send out a printed promotion. For 2010, we designed a wall calendar combining silkscreen, letterpress and die-cutting, all on super thick 59pt. binder’s board. The artwork showcased the character of our identity font, Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk.
Letterpress and die-cut by Rohner Letterpress. The silkscreening was done in our kitchen.
Road to Close is an application for managing real estate transactions. Unlike other real estate apps, with Road to Close, everyone involved in the process is invited to take an active role in the task and project management of the transaction, creating more transparency and efficiency.
True story provided product naming, brand identity design, user interface design and trade show booth design.
In collaboration with Thirdwave.
Lakeview Baseball Club on Sheffield Avenue is the original Wrigley Field rooftop. LBC is instantly recognizable by its historic “Eamus Catuli!” and “Anno Catuli” signs that cheer on the beloved Cubs and count how many years since they’ve won the division, pennant, and World Series. After the Cubs’ 2016 World Series Championship, the counter was set back to “000000.”
True story designed the brand identity for LBC, celebrating the history of the building, and honoring the traditions of Major League Baseball.
And we got to update the old signs.
Wonderlic’s Cognitive Ability Test is a trusted exam used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees and students for learning, decision making, and problem solving. Most famously, “The Wonderlic” is used by the NFL during their annual pre-draft Combine as a tool to evaluate future players.
Wonderlic engaged True story to redesign its brand identity, design identity standards, and communicate a cohesive brand messaging strategy to its employees.
Since 1982, Pops for Champagne has been a popular Chicago destination for lovers of the sparkling French wine. After moving from Lakeview to the River North entertainment district, Pops has also become a favorite spot for tourists and downtown residents looking for a fun place to celebrate or meet with friends.
True story designed Pops’ brand identity and website. The number of dots in the logo was in recognition of Pops’ thirtieth anniversary.
Web development by Bryan Lademann.
One-offs and outtakes...