Angela Kallsen is a Minneapolis designer who works like a modern-day mixologist, blending illustration, pattern, texture and color to serve up concepts that people can’t wait to drink in.
Pulling A Rabbit Out Of A Hat
According to Angela, it started with a conversation. “The restaurant owner reached out to me and told me about this brand new restaurant concept he was opening up,” Angela recalled. “He showed me pictures of this menu he’d discovered at a rum bar in Latin America that had been letterpress printed. It was hand-bound with book boards. It was gorgeous. ‘Can we do something like this with a rabbit twist?’ he asked. I thought ‘Wow, this could be really cool.’”
The Happy Accident
“As we talked about his new restaurant concept, the word ‘whimsy’ kept coming up,” Angela said. “Even though the new bar had a rather industrial look he was hoping to incorporate unexpected touches of whimsy to pay homage to its name. He showed me a spectacular chandelier of blown glass that had all these fun colors and curves that they had purchased for the space and then left me to work.”
Once the design was finished and the restaurant was finally pulled together, Angela stopped in to take a look. “I noticed that a lot of the same shapes I had ended up using throughout the drink menu were in a lot of the other lighting fixtures. It was totally serendipitous. Neither I or his interior designer had met and yet we both heard what he was saying and came up with the same answer,” she said. “I was so happy and so was he.”
A Creative Concoction
Despite not being able to recreate the book exactly because of cost, Angela said, “We came close. For the first version, we did a perfect bind. We chose letterpress book board covers. And, just like the original, we sprinkled the book’s 48 pages with illustrations and dingbats, clever quotes and recipes, even backstories on cocktails and tips on serving wine.” Recalling one of her favorite spreads featured in the book—an illustration of a half lemon, half cello alongside the Red Rabbit’s Limoncello drink recipe—she said, “It was a little wink and nod to the rabbit.”
The Project That Just Keeps Multiplying
Three months later, to Angela’s surprise and delight, the Red Rabbit project reappeared. Turns out the cocktail and wine list changes seasonally, so none of the menu books are in circulation for more than three months.
“It’s actually pretty cool,” Angela said. “Every time we do a new volume somebody’s always got a new idea of what they want to bring to it, so it isn’t just about editing out a few things here or there. It’s really all of us taking a look at the whole book and asking, ‘What’s working and what’s not?’ and making the changes.” And there have been changes, especially ones that make the book more cost-effective and easier to reorder. “We’ve trimmed the size to 5.5″ x 8.5″, cut the page count to 25, opted for 100# linen cover and moved content. But the whimsy is still there,” Angela said. “And I love that.”
“In the end, it turned out exactly how I hoped it would,“ Angela said. “More than anything, I wanted to deliver on the owner’s original vision. He really wanted this bar menu to stand out and be something completely different.”