Denver restaurant Brutø has a suitably Brutalist identity

An emphasis on raw materials has informed both the food and the design at this Michelin Star restaurant

Brutø, a renowned restaurant in Denver, Colorado has unveiled an identity and spatial redesign by Wunder Werkz, a studio based between Denver and Reykjavík, Iceland.

Known for its forward-thinking approach to sustainability, and its championing of local grains and fermentation, Brutø was founded in 2019 and over the last five years has picked up both a Michelin Star and a desirable Michelin Green Star.

More recently, looking to reshape their team and rethink their programme of food, the founders behind the restaurant, Kelly and Erika Whitaker of hospitality group Id Est, reached out to Wunder Werkz to also refresh Brutø’s visual offerings, both online and off.

Crucially, the new branding needed to centre around the restaurant’s Brutalist approach, which prioritises minimalism, materiality and raw aesthetics. Equally important was the highlighting of Brutø’s commitment to sustainable dining, informed by new executive chef Byron Gomez’s low-waste culinary philosophy.

“The Id Est team was very open to ideas we might have regarding the evolution of visual brand and spatial design,” says Jon Hartman, partner at Wunder Werkz, who explains that they “asked us to think outside the box and really consider the intersection of Brutalism in cooking, design and architecture”.

With this in mind, the team at Wunder Werkz used the existing Brutø wordmark to create a range of graphics, experiences and assets that embrace Brutalism in their style.

The website for the restaurant has been reworked to align with Brutalist web design ideas, with function dictating the form of the site, which is composed of a single page dominated by a strong red hue and bold black text. Here, visitors can peruse the Brutø manifesto, the restaurant’s key materials and elements, and the team that brings it all to life.

These ideas have also been embodied within the physical space, which Wunder Werkz was tasked with reimagining. Glass glazing and shading solutions, reeded glass and tinted glass panes create surreal plays of light in the restaurant, while exposed bricks and steel supports give it a utilitarian feel. Elsewhere, a T5 construction light and two panes of red acrylic rounds combine to form the rough shape of the Brutø logo.

Zooming in further, the physical menus are made from rough recycled paper, with the layout embracing a simplistic grid that provides the idea behind each dish, the inspiration, and the ingredients involved in making it. These menus are accompanied by an ‘impact receipt’ that explains the pay off of Brutø’s approach in terms of reusing resources, saving water and reducing waste.

“When such a focus is placed on sustainability for the restaurant, a lot of the nuance is missed for the diner – how much reuse is in action, how much water is saved, how much waste was reduced and how that plays into your meal,” explains Hartman. “We wanted to present a diner with a receipt at the end of the meal, but instead of them considering the financial cost we wanted them to better understand the environmental cost of dining.”

The resulting experience is one that adheres to the principles of Brutalism, opting for a raw aesthetic that prioritises function over form, but does so in a way that the finished product is still pleasing to the eye. The new website, signage and interior complements the key ingredient at Brutø – the food. The simple, highly refined nature of the dishes belies the thought and care that have gone into creating them, and the same can be said of Wunder Werkz’s branding for the restaurant.

“We consider ourselves a studio that is agnostic of materials, methods and mediums,” notes Hartman. “Because of this, Brutø’s Brutalist philosophy opened up endless visual and spatial design possibilities, allowing us to create something beautifully restrained and expertly crafted using humble materials.”