Award-Winning Brand Designer Brings Zest and Panache to Two New Restaurants Under One 'Windy City' Roof

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Award-winning designer Regina Rubino of IMAGE: Global Vision reveals how she created two distinct identity brands for RIA and Balsan, both of which are located in Chicago’s exquisite Elysian Hotel. Each restaurant has launched a new website based on Rubino’s innovative approach to brand identity.


"This project was particularly fulfilling because each restaurant had its own rich and unique appeal. I felt like I was in the presence of two wonderful personalities. Expressing the essence of each was a privilege,” says Rubino

The new RIA and Balsan restaurants located at the Elysian — Chicago’s first home-grown luxury hotel — have one thing in common. But visitors would never guess that the brand identities of the elegant sea-meets-shore venue and the 1920s-style Paris Bistro are both the work of Regina Rubino and her IMAGE: Global Vision artisans.

Rubino, whose brand designs are known worldwide, welcomed the challenge of creating identities for the two distinct dining environments within the same hotel. The differences are immediately apparent when visiting the websites, which each venue recently launched. Both were designed by Rubino and company based on the logos, menus, signage and collateral they had created for the restaurants that opened in the exquisite Elysian earlier this year.

“It is always an exciting challenge to create a brand identity that has an emotional and intellectual impact. This project was particularly fulfilling because each restaurant had its own rich and unique appeal. I felt like I was in the presence of two wonderful personalities. Expressing the essence of each was a privilege,” says Rubino, whose studio is located in Santa Monica, CA.

RIA, which means where land meets sea, is an upscale dining experience with an international flare, fresh fine food and a world-class wine list. The atmosphere captures the sensuous, mysterious transition and overlap of a shoreline. The website extends the RIA concept of fluidity even in the photos of the food: each shot — whether a tower of shaved foie gras, or a woven basket of chocolate crowning a dessert — is cropped to echo the sensual flow of the ocean or the landscape it meets.

Even RIA menus reflect the shifting identity: items are not in a straight line, but instead ripple across the page freely. The specifics of the brand identity are expressed in every element, including business cards that have been given a sheen that catches light and reflects subtle color changes.

Balsan is a European-style bistro with a menu that features hand crafted seasonal delicacies and food grown on local family farms.

The restaurant’s namesake is Etienne Balsan, Coco Chanel’s first lover, who lent her his apartment in Paris for her first shop. The eatery reflects a casual, non-conformist elegance in a simple, sexy and modernized version of Paris in the 1920s. The logo replicates Balsan's signature on a dotted line.

“We wanted the logo to evoke both the passion of a love letter and the practicality of a signed check. After all, Balsan was also Chanel's financier,” says Rubino.

Also, the menus and business cards mirror the beautifully etched-glass pattern that adorns the back of the bar. And throughout the design, a mix of typefaces blends ultra modern with glamorous nostalgia to create a timelessness that invites guests to stay awhile.

The Rubino touch is not new to the Chicago area. With long-time collaborator Robert Louey she founded Louey/Rubino Design Group from which grew Robert Louey Design/Pagenova. Their brand identity for NoMI at the Park Hyatt Chicago earned the coveted James Beard Foundation Award. They won the same award for their Sepia restaurant identity design. And they created the signage for the renovation of the iconic Hyatt Regency O'Hare.

Rubino and Louey have built an international reputation by blending emotionally stunning imagery with simple yet powerful language. They have won over 300 international communication arts awards by adhering to a guiding principle — emotion plus intellect equals clarity. Their client list includes The Beverly Hills Hotel, Kaufman and Broad, New World Hotels, Beijing Yintai Property Company Ltd., Mori Building Co. Ltd and Aflac.

For more about Regina Rubino and IMAGE: Global Vision:
Information Contact:
Phone (310) 998-8898
Fax (310) 396-1686
E-mail: regina(at)loueyrubino(dot)com

For more information about Regina Rubino and IMAGE: Global Vision
visit,,, or email regina(at)loueyrubino(dot)com,
call (310) 998-8898 or write to 2525 Main St.,
Santa Monica, CA., 90405.

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