The Al Dente Project

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Students Redesign a Brand

Students in Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo's graphic design class have been given an assignment: to redesign of the visual identity of the local, nationally-distributed pasta company, Al Dente. This blog follows their creative process as they work in teams to come up with a logo and brand identity that, if successful, may end up on the shelves of grocery stores around the country.

Posts by The Al Dente Project

Graphic Design: From Computer to Materials

Andrew Hainen: Finally getting it “on paper”

Last week we met with with our groups and Franc to discuss where we were with Phase 2 of the Al Dente project.  Up until now, I was feeling strong about my package labels for the different pastas. Taking the inspiration and feel that I had produced in the labels and incorporating it into stationary, business cards, envelopes, shirts, etc. has proven to be an entirely bigger challenge.

With the package labels, I was doing my best to limit the amount of colors I was using, but it wasn’t a top concern as the current labels in use seemed to use quite a few colors.  Phase 2 is requiring a lot more ink limitations, which is proving to be quite a challenge.  With design, it’s very easy to make something look great on screen, and when printing comes into play, one usually just hopes it will come out as nice but....READ MORE FROM...

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Phase Two: Stationary & Other Materials

With logos almost there, teams move on to labels and stationary...

Wednesday, October 27
Today in class we each showed our individual designs for the stationary
set: letterhead, mailing label, business card, and envelope. While we had
been working as a group, we each spent individual time working on these.
Surprisingly enough, we had a wide variety of styles as a group as well as
a class. This was one of the first days where we saw our ideas truly
materialize. It was awesome to see everyone's work! In the next few weeks
we will see even more solid designs, as we each perfect logotypes and
illustrations for the bags. I think everything is coming together very
nicely and Monique will be excited when she sees!




Writing with Pasta

Team Three narrows down to their favorites

Today we came to class with revised iterations for the designs we received critiques on this past Monday. Each member of our group chose their best working design and revised it to the comments/suggestions made.
While meeting as a group with Franc and discussing the positives and negatives, what's working well/what's not of each, we were then able to narrow down even further to our most favored two designs (Erin's and Jason's). We discussed the importance of line quality, gesture, legibility as a logo/logotpye, and hierarchy as a means to further improve our designs....READ MORE.



New Designs from Team One

Week 3 :: Emily Maier

After the class critique last Monday I felt that my design needed more personality to mimic the strong personality of Monique, the creator.  Because of this I decided to go for a hand-drawn look for the font as well as a hand drawn more script style for the illustrations.

The font that I used here is a quick sample drawn with the brush tool and some of the things that I am looking at sharpening are the spacing between the letters.....READ MORE...



The checkerboard and the logo

The checkerboard has been part of Al Dente's brand since the company started in 1981. Brynn Kurlan from Team Four posts some ideas on how to incorporate this element into the new logo:




How a brand needs to be cohesive

TEAM ONE is Emily Maier, Sam Goldman, Allie Seiler, Sam Schulman, Chelsae Blackman and Andrew Hainen

visit their blog at

On Wednesday last week (October 6th, 2010), our group met up and went over what we wanted to accomplish and planned out our next steps.  Up to now, everyone has primarily been working on the logo and some simple illustrations.  What we had realized with Franc was that our logos and illustrations felt very detached from one another.  Some of the logos felt more play-like and hand-drawn, while others felt corporate and modern.  Neither of those being a problem, but the illustrations felt like they were in a different theme or realm than the logos.

We decided primarily for this week that we would:

  1. Work on more illustrations
  2. Mesh illustrations with logos and find a common ground

Furthermore, we...

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Week of October 4th

Andrew Hainen posts more design ideas

ANDREW HAINEN: As I began this week, I knew I had to work on the illustrations first because I was pretty sure that the “empty space” I was feeling in my designs was some sort of imagery or iconography.  With lots of labels, it’s easy to get by on simple shapes and creative layouts with color coded areas; what I mean is using just shapes and designs, no actual imagery to present the information.  With these, the previous labels had a very home-drawn feeling of icons for each type of pasta that added a lot to the packaging I feel.  To maintain that “homey” feeling, I really wanted to keep the illustrations and not move to just type or just simple shapes.  In my mind, that seems to be a trend toward modern design and minimalism, which I don’t think Monique would want Al Dente to be moving towards, in a certain sense.

After producing the illustrations, I thought things...

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Narrowing It Down

We are still in the sketching phase, but have narrowed down our five most liked ideas from the group. From here we are going off on our own to create variations and iterations of each design to show each other on Wednesday.

Also for Wednesday, we plan to:
- collect/make color swatches
- take images and create archive of foods, colors found in nature and the pasta
- play with the pasta and to get a feel for the realness of the shape, texture, line quality. Take pictures of the pasta in specific forms and layouts.

Here are the images of the designs we will be working from:




In the name of design, Kellyann Learns to Cook

Hello, Kellyann here. The class’s token redhead.

I am not one to cook, in fact one of my life goals is to use my oven for storage- I am thinking shoes. When Monique gave each of us a bag of pasta I did not know what to do with it. I have gone through my first two years of college at dining halls or ordering food; and I are close friends and I am single handedly supporting the Taco Bells of Ann Arbor. Yes you may conclude not only do I avoid the kitchen but I also tend to avoid the bottom food groups of the food pyramid.

When I saw the three minute cook time I was thinking “Okay Kellyann you got this. Put your big girl pants on and just make the freaking pasta.” True to my nature I had to go out for a special trip and buy some alfredo sauce since the only content of my mini fridge are small coffee drinks and freeze pops.

I put water in a pot, put it on...

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Initial Logo Drafts

TEAM ONE is Emily Maier, Sam Goldman, Allie Seiler, Sam Schulman, Chelsae Blackman and Andrew Hainen

visit their blog at


EMILY MAIER: I made these designs while trying to come up with a new way to incorporate the checkerboard into the logo or the information about the 3 min. cooking time.  Along with the other group members we came up with the idea to create an acronym for the company in order to help create a super-simplified logo, which could be applied to various networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter.


ANDREW HAINEN: For the first week, I began with the logo for Al Dente Pasta, and the layout of the label.   The key item that I left out were the illustrations of the specific flavors of the pastas.  I will be working on incorporating those into the labels this...

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MindMapping the Pasta

Students begin the design process with a brainstorm session, creating a 'mind map' for Al Dente Pasta.


TEAM ONE is Emily Maier, Sam Goldman, Allie Seiler, Sam Schulman, Chelsae Blackman and Andrew Hainen 

From their blog:

So our group got started on new ideas for the Al Dente Pasta Company’s branding and feel.  We began with a simple mind mapping of what we perceived about Al Dente.  Ideas flowed from the packaging, the bag, the taste, the colors, etc.

Above is an image of what the class came up with just at a whim and during a group discussion. We then moved into out separate groups and brainstormed further, and tried to nail down our specific goals.

Together we came to the conclusion that Al Dente has so much potential, energy, and personality, but it’s just being sent out in too many directions and trying to do too...

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The Parpardelle Effect

Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo is teaching a new class this semester focusing on identity design. Monique Deschanie, founder of the local, nationally distributed pasta company, Al Dente, needs a new visual identity.

It's a win-win as these two see it. Monique gets a brand redesign. Franc's students get a real world project to wrap their newbie design brains around.

So for the next three months four student design teams will be putting their heads together to redesign Al Dente's visual identity. A big job for these students who may, at the end of it, find their work on the shelves of supermarkets around the country.

Monique Deschanie explains her current "design issues." She adds, "we need a logo that can withstand the test of time. We want to still be loving this in 10 years."

"The 'checkers' have been part of a brand from the beginning," Monique tells the class.

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