Meet Miss Kō, a restaurant identity by GBH

Gregory Bonner Hale (GBH) has created the graphic identity for Miss Kō, a new Asian fusion restaurant in Paris that sports a Phillipe Starck interior which GBH describe as “a place where cultures collide, fantasy rules and nothing is what it seems”…

miss_ko_569_0.jpg - Meet Miss Kō, a restaurant identity by GBH - 5110

Gregory Bonner Hale has created the graphic identity for Miss Kō, a new Asian fusion restaurant in Paris that sports a Phillipe Starck interior which GBH describe as “a place where cultures collide, fantasy rules and nothing is what it seems”…

The restaurant’s name and identity are based, GBH tell us, around the fictitious Miss Kō, “a young, sexy but eternally mysterious symbol of Asia, and the embodiment of its traditions and its strangeness,” says GBH creative director Peter Hale.

Miss Kō herself appears in the brand identity as a naked woman, her face in shadow, showing off her full body suit tattoo, a sign in some Asian cultures, apparently, of ties to the underworld.

The artwork for Miss Kō’s colourful tattoos was created by Horikitsune (aka Alex Kofuu Reinke), the only European to have trained as an apprentice (for more than 15 years) in the traditional Japanese art of Irezumi (tattooing). The campaign imagery was shot by Uli Webber.

The restaurant’s logotype is made up of nine grains of rice, each one representing one of the countries that inspired the creation of the Miss Kō menu. The logotype and photographed imagery of the tattoed female body come together in the business cards shown at the top of this post, while the menus themselves all purport to be items from Miss Kō’s world: the cocktail menu poses as her private sketchbook with each cocktail named after one of her friends (Ginza boy, Madame Keiko and Crazy MoFo) and represented by an illustrated character:

The dessert menu features photos of from Miss Kō as a child:

And the main food and drink menu covers feature more photographic imagery of her impressive full-body tattoo art:

Not to mention an intriguing menu item, the Bim Bim Bap Burger:

Meanwhile, outside the restaurant, the signage looks like this:

And just below it, connected, we’re told, by a tangle of wires, is a chest-height digital sign that displays an animated version of the Miss Kō logo which displays the restaurant’s name in different Asian languages:

Here’s a look at the animation that plays on the box:

And this animation of grains of rice (that occasionally form the Miss Kō logo) is projected onto the floor:

To see more of of GBH’s work, visit

  • Wow. Really interesting and original concept. I wonder if that tongue tattoo is real? In fact, is the tattoo real at all? It says “created by” suggesting that it might not be? Very impressive either way!

    Not entirely sure why they’ve opted for a different style for the main menu to the desserts and cocktails menu though. It would’ve been great if they were a nice little set perhaps? Also, the tallest menu is always the menu that I instantaneously assume is the drinks menu.

  • I agree with Tony Hardy, it seems strange that the menus do not go to together at all. Love everything apart from the exterior tongue tattoo signage. The mark itself is excellent.

  • Tim

    Excellent work, best piece of branding i’ve seen in ages. Good idea executed beautifully. Agree though the tongue sticks out as odd, you can’t tattoo your tongue can you? and if it’s supposed to be a metaphor it’s a bit cheesy, unlike the rest of the work. The rice projection are a brilliant idea. I hope Miss Kō is an actual person with those tattoo’s and it’s not just photoshop magic.

  • Nothing

    It might just be me but this has a lot of ‘student project’ qualities…

  • Great concept and delivery. Agree with Tim about the tongue, sort or cheapens it a bit, but the rest is beautiful and gives a real sense of an exclusive and highbrow brand.

  • Barry

    I’m a little surprised how popular this is. Can you REALLY get away with an over-airbrushed, faceless, nude, mythical ‘china girl’ in this day and age? Also calls to mind those tacky eat-sushi-of-a-model places, or a poster for ‘Le Crazy Horse’.

    It’s also the first time I’ve questioned whether a CR post has been sponsored, so out of place does it feel and so unquestioning the tone of the copy.

    I do like the rice Logo though.

  • Rosie Milton

    ‘It might just be me but this has a lot of ‘student project’ qualities…’

    aAd when else in your career can you truly run with your ideas? GBH have been allowed to plunge into the deep end with this one and how lucky they are!

  • ant3000

    Great design, great concept BUT Is it me or does the dancing logo look a little like synchronised maggots?

  • Finn

    Agree with Barry. I think this is going to alienate a lot of the female clientele, as using a naked female body with the head cut off seems needlessly exploitative. Do they really think women are going to want to stare at an idealized body before they order food? “I’ll have a water please.”

    But the rice logo is pretty cool.

  • zino

    I lived in Tokyo for 11 years and must say this smacks of every ‘oriental’ cliche. It seems instantly old and not in a good way.

    Agree with ant3000: first impression I had is of lice, not rice. Wouldn’t go near this place for a meal.

  • Melissa

    female objectification and the fetishizing of other cultures. How insensitive.

  • Stephen JB

    This is nothing but misogynistic orientalism.

  • I don’t know what I like the most, the ident or the body-art.

    Great work, GBH.

  • Kat

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who think the use of a naked woman with her head cut off is in very poor taste. As designers can we please make the extra effort to avoid such obvious and potentially harmful clichés? What would have been wrong with including a male figure to at least make it balanced?

  • Josh

    You know the naked woman is Miss Ko herself right? I think she’s allowed to be naked on her own menus if she wants to. Not GBH’s fault if she’s made that decision. I say fair play to her. Reminds me of Sagmeister going nude all those years ago when he opened his studio.

  • Tom

    Entirely expected claims of sexism from an anxious political centre-left. This type of knee-jerk reaction doesn’t strengthen the position of women in society, it only reinforces the misconception that women are weak and thus need to be protected, which is a sexist assumption in itself.

    Had this photo been of a man, from a western perspective we most likely would have interpreted the image as an expression of traditional body art, with secondary interpretations of contemplative religious devotion or Tarantino-esque Yakuza nonsense.
    Instead, we’re talking about how this woman (the commissioning client) is being paraded around in poor taste. If you call this fetishisation, it’s only because you subjugate the nude female form as a result of our hyper-sexualised cultures.

    Kat – suggesting the addition of a male model is, to my mind, the most sexist thought to arise here. It presupposes that female nudity in the absence of a man is somehow improper, and requires gender-balancing in order to neutralise an offending aesthetic.

  • Josh

    Well bloomin’ said Tom.

  • Alex

    A round of applause for Tom everybody!

    The mark is exceptional, rare quality in this project, seems to work really well

  • I’m a female designer and I think this is stunning. Both in logo and creative concept. The “traditions and strangeness” can instantly be seen here, in both a fun and seductive way. Who’s paying so much attention to the fact that it’s a naked woman? I’m curious to see that most people seem to to be adverse to the fact that it is a woman, not the fact that they are nude. My first thought was wow. It’s a beautifully executed, contemporary brand design.

  • Neirin

    Tom speaks eloquently on the subject of sexism. Well said.

    On the subject of design!! I think its an incredible and striking piece of work. Well done.

  • Finn

    Tom is coming from a perspective of male privilege, and has no idea what he’s talking about. Women are inundated from childhood with images of ideal female beauty and told that we must live up to an impossible standard. One place we most definitely wouldn’t want to be reminded, yet again, of what we are supposed to look like, is at a restaurant when we are sitting down to eat a hearty meal.

    I do not object to the use of a naked female body because I think that we women need to be “protected.” Instead, I think it’s tasteless sexual objectification – most notably because you can’t see her face. It’s another instance where a woman is reduced to parts rather than presented as a whole being, reinforcing the idea that women are not whole people but merely objects to be desired and prizes to be conquered. This can be seen in countless ads today, examples of which can be found below: (NSFW)

    The reasons this would be seen differently had the ad presented a nude male body are twofold. First, naked female breasts are seen as sexual characteristics, whereas naked male pectorals are not. Thus, a naked female torso is a much more sexual image. Second, men are prized far less for their bodies than women are, and are seen more as the sum of their characteristics than the sum of their body parts. Thus the reiteration of an ideal female body is far more damaging and irritating than an ideal male body would be. A male body simply has less meaning. You’d be looking at the tattoos rather than the body underneath.

    Finn out.

  • Ed

    @ Finn

    We privileged men have film stars, sports stars, fashion ads and rock stars to make us feel bad about ourselves too. Impossible standards and plummeting self worth are not solely the domain of women.

    Also you’ve sort of ignored everything Tom says: “If you call this fetishisation, it’s only because you subjugate the nude female form as a result of our hyper-sexualised cultures”. To argue that it would have been different if it was a man is sort of the point – it shouldn’t be. Any fuss created otherwise only perpetuates the problem.

    In any case, the rice logo is brilliant. Really nice oriental feel without getting all brush script-y.

  • Stpehen JB

    The argument that this would be different if it were a male body does not hold water. To create a proper equivalence, an alternative image would have to utilise the set of signifiers of ‘the Orient’ as they apply to the Oriental male. Instead of “young, sexy but eternally mysterious symbol of Asia, and the embodiment of its traditions and its strangeness” (and I honestly can’t believe that I’m reading words like that in 2013), we would need to mobilize a similarly offensive male stereotype.

    To that end, I would suggest that the restaurant be called ‘Charlie Chan’, and the identity system feature a skinny, bespectacled, bucktoothed man in a conical straw hat and his hands inside his sleeves. Perhaps the name of the restaurant could be spelled out with chopsticks (you know – to give it a really nice Oriental feel without having to resort to brush scripts). I believe that would be the proper complement to the utterly outmoded and offensive stereotype of the ‘mysterious Oriental prostitute’ presented here.

    And Tom – it’s not that the image features a nude female body that makes it sexist; it’s rather that it features a nude female body, headless, on a restaurant menu, served up as an object of sensual pleasure, and covered in the signifiers of ‘mysterious Asia’. It then names designates her as young and available (‘Miss’) whilst maintaining some business like distance (only the family name is given). Every effort is made to present this body not as a person but as some fantasy figure – “young, sexy but eternally mysterious”. It may be effective as design, but it’s ethically indefensible.

  • Its a great piece of design & love the logo ideas. As for the tattoo, I only see the art. Beautiful imho

  • Daniel

    the logo is simple and nice, the tattooed woman is a terrible idea

    “eternally mysterious symbol of Asia, and the embodiment of its traditions and its strangeness”

    that is soo cheesy and ridiculous.

  • Ed

    Chopsticks in the logo would’ve looked rubbish.

  • May be its like Europe version of Anna Karenina for Russians…

    …but I LOVE the concept

  • Geoff

    I think they’ve been watching too much of a Hollywood filming starring a large alien with dreadlocks.

    Predator countdown clock!

  • A Joyce

    I find it amusing how many people are misusing the term ‘orientalism’.

    That refers to art of the Persians. Harems, belly dancers, etc. Has NOTHING to do with East Asia. If you are going to bash something and use art terminology, at least know the definitions of the words you are using.

  • Jo

    I’m almost certain that an artist image is just that. Bringing sex and sexism into the mix only makes you the one applying the sexism and objectification. Maybe it’s just the way I look at it, but if you’re the one whom is instantly jumping to the conclusion that this must be sexist and reducing femininity to nothing but a visual pleasure, then you are to blame. As someone said above perpetuating the problem.

    If you are told to be this and that, by media and idealism’s, then if you choose to buy into it you are the one accepting it. I disregard anything of that nature. A headless body of a woman? If you see a triangle with the top cut off, you don’t scream “They’ve objectified it to make it an equilateral” it’s no different here. The body is an art, a shape (yes objectifying, but not of the woman, she isn’t just a body, her body is just a body), it’s not for sexual pleasure. It’s art. Are you ashamed of nudity, would her identity make you stop and say “no this is fine, I see nothing wrong. Lord forbid, if they had cut her head off.”

    I just don’t get why so many think it’s sexist. Would you rather a tattooed platypus or perhaps a genderless animal? Or should it be merged half man, half woman. That balances the gender equation. What is sexism? The unbalanced gender issue that apparently all women are objectified by everyone and because of apparent frailty, that you apply yourself as the observer, need protecting. What nonsense.

    Simply put what I’m saying is that you’ve ‘implied’ everything yourself and guilty of your own charges. There is nothing wrong with artistic beauty.

    I actually really like the work. It’s daring and the tongue doesn’t stick out as strange to me, it makes me think of wonderful flavors, an art of taste that will decorate my tongue. After all it’s an advertisement for the restaurant.

  • Tibor Sallai

    The first thing I saw: what an awesome tattoo. The second: Oh, she’s a woman. Is it me or everybody else just see female udity? I think those, who argues about feminism, sexist thoughts, gender balancing and other liberalist bllshts are the sexists. Can’t you see further?
    Interesting mixture of concept by the way. Looks like two people get together to make something interesting, they came along well, but somehow lost the guide. Either parts: the traditional tatoos and the rice logo goes well alone but together, who knows. The minimalist logo and the colourful tattoos makes a really good contrast. You know what? I changed my mind. I like it.

  • Glenn Mather

    Amazing! What a contrast between complex and simplicity. The body tattoo is unbelievable – I’m not a great fan of tattoos, but you cannot fail to recognise the beauty and work that has gone into this work of art.