Rintaro’s chef & owner, Sylvan Brackett, came to me with the goal of redesigning their website to better introduce their brand to customers on the internet. Inspired by his collection of Showa-era graphics, I developed a visual strategy and built a completely original web experience from the ground up.


Rintaro’s brand identity balances elements of Californian and Japanese culture, past and present. This was already evident in their menu offerings, interior design and existing print collateral. We wanted the website to be a clear and robust extension of this existing identity. So I first created an identity guide that articulated the look-and-feel Rintaro strived to create. I introduced the guide with narrative:

It’s a brisk Friday night. You just left a dive bar and you can’t remember if your last drink was a shot of Fernet in the Mission, or a Highball in Shinjuku. You’re walking with some old friends along the Yamanote line, or is it the J-Church? You duck into the courtyard of a dimly lit restaurant and find yourself in a warm, intimate space. The sturdy wooden construction turns the sound from the lively crowd into a warm, inviting buzz. You can smell something roasting over a charcoal grill as a danceable song plays in the background. It could be 1958 or 2018.

I created numerous illustrations for the site, including this spiny lobster ‘hanko’ stamp.
Textured type, rough edges, and overlapping layouts give the site a distinctly physical appearance.
We pored through hundreds of Showa-era graphics to inform the stylistic direction.
The site is intentionally imperfect. Textured and overlapping typography and graphics are intended to create a wabi-sabi sense of intimacy and physicality. Aya Brackett’s warm editorial photography helps make Rintaro’s food and environment more tangible.

Beneath the site’s rough, handmade feel the structure is intended to make navigation easy and intuitive. We prioritized the two most common user actions: (1) making a reservation and (2) finding the restaurant’s location & hours. The site is built with Grav CMS, which has an admin dashboard that allows Rintaro’s team to make their own content changes on the fly. It also has an Instagram feed to provide a steady stream of fresh content.

Although the brand awareness we were optimizing for wasn’t practical for us to measure—we still saw some interesting metrics in other areas: More engaging content led to a 70% increase in Average Time on Page. I was also able to cut the Average Page Load Time from 6 seconds on their old site down to just 2.5 seconds on the new one.

DESIGN & CODE Austin Long