Gretel's Ryan Moore and Andrea Trabucco-Campos on the creative allure of Noma
Dining at Noma is one of the most exclusive foodie experiences in the world. Yet, the restaurant's brand presence exudes an authentic warmth and accessibility that makes it feel open to all. Gretel's Moore and Trabucco-Campos spoke to Creative Boom about how Noma's commitment to creativity and genuine connection has resulted in a brand that extends beyond the restaurant's four walls and three Michelin stars.
There was instant chemistry when the Gretel team first met with Chef René Redzepi, co-founder of the three-Michelin-star Copenhagen establishment Noma, five years ago.
Ryan Moore, partner at the Brooklyn-based branding, strategy and design studio Gretel, described Redzepi as "warm, disarming, and candid", recalling how refreshing it was to meet a leader so invested in celebrating creativity and teamwork.
Today, the relationship between Noma and Gretel is still going strong. Moore and Andrea Trabucco-Campos, the creative director behind Noma and Gretel's most recent collaboration, Noma 2.0, sat down with Creative Boom to share their thoughts on what makes a long-term creative partnership work and the unique creative satisfaction that comes from working with food.
Gretel and Noma's inaugural collaboration was on the Copenhagen-based bakery, Hart Bageri, in 2018.
Since then, Gretel has supported several ventures from the Noma group, including a second location for Hart and brand design for Inua in Tokyo.
In 2020, Gretel engaged in a playful, top-to-bottom initiative to transform Noma's pandemic-times outdoor burger pop-up into a sustainable, long-term culinary brand in its own right. Gretel created the name and identity, as well as weighed in on the interior design for Popl, which successfully made the leap from pop-up to an established burger joint.
Gretel also developed the identity and packaging for Noma Projects, which offers home cooks the opportunity to bring Redzepi's innovative flavours into their own kitchens with unique packaged products like Smoked Mushroom Garum and Whisky Vinegar.
And most recently, the agency partnered with Noma on a lushly designed art book, Noma 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean, to celebrate Noma's 20th anniversary.
Gretel partnered with Noma and Artisan Publishers, leading the art direction and design of the book. Noma 2.0 brings together stories from Noma's 20 years in operation, original recipes, and over 200 stunning photographs. The people who have contributed to Noma's continued push toward creativity and innovation during the last 20 years are credited by name on the back cover and interior endpapers. Within the book, each season ends with the perspective of key collaborators, such as landscape designer Piet Oudolf and illustrator David Shrigley.
The result is a book that captures Noma's spirit and turns the exclusive experience of being a patron at one of Noma's restaurants into a story that anyone worldwide can participate in.
To translate that experience faithfully and authentically, the Gretel team needed to ensure the book's design didn't just highlight the flavour profiles associated with Noma or the beautiful dishes but also captured the narrative of what it feels like to be a Noma guest. The book needed a personal touch, which Noma, Artisan, and Gretel created through rich photos, illustrations, and compelling storytelling.
"What we wanted to match is the experience of somebody from the front-of-house presenting the dish to you, bringing that to you," said Gretel's Trabucco-Campos.
To enrich the sensory experience, the team endeavoured to fashion a book that felt as inviting and full of adventure as a Noma menu.
"The book as an object has a real presence. It is sizable – the format, weight, and texture of the cover: it invites you to pick it up," Gretel's Ryan Moore told Creative Boom, adding that to call it a recipe book would be "reductive". He's right: calling Noma 2.0 a cookbook is something of a misnomer. Yes, it features Noma recipes and celebrates the seasonal rhythm that Redzepi's menus have always found inspiration in – but the true secret ingredient of this impressive and beautiful book is the story it tells about the power of creativity.
By inviting collaborators and focusing on the stories supporting Noma's growth and change over the years, Noma 2.0 extends beyond the cookbook and celebrates innovation, curiosity, and evolution. No element of the book captures this more fully than David Shrigley's contribution, a comic-strip style illustration titled "How to Retain Your Sparkle", encapsulating Noma's value on creativity.
Ultimately, Noma 2.0 is a recipe for creative success – showcasing how inspiration comes to the fore through observation, play, teamwork, and a commitment to pushing boundaries.
The title itself is a nod to Noma's history of reinvention. In 2017, the original Noma closed its doors. For the next year, Redzepi and his staff travelled the world, experimenting in pop-up kitchens and exploring creativity outside of cooking. With a Renéwed appetite for innovation, the team reopened Noma a year later in a new space built from scratch, signalling the beginning of a new era, Noma 2.0.
The reopening illustrates Noma's insistence on constant innovation – the quality that most compelled the Gretel team. After all, as designers and brand strategists, they rely on the same relentless commitment to reinvention that Redzepi has canonised through his own career and approach to leadership.
"There is a relentlessness about Noma. They're just not stopping and never resting on their laurels," observed Trabucco-Campos, reflecting on what he's learned about creativity from Gretel's partnership with Noma. "It's inspiring – the practice of never resting on the recipe you've created that has made you successful." He commended Noma's commitment to "rethink that recipe and to engage with it, to evolve it. Those things are so important. And seeing the best doing it inspires me to say: that is the framework of keeping that conversation going and never stopping."
For Moore, this relentless but intentional innovation is a testament to the powerful brand Noma has cultivated. "Good branding, or how we talk about branding, is a set of principles. Principles allow for flexibility, and principles allow a brand to grow and to adapt," Moore told Creative Boom. "Certainly, René and Noma do that with their business constantly; they adhere to the principles, and wherever that leads, they will go. It's almost more like a practice than a business.
"That commitment to a practice of creativity, and the willingness to experiment and follow their intuition, follow their principles, even into a space where they're closing the restaurant for a year, is admirable, and I think analogous to, to branding in a way," said Moore. "You set up the structure that allows you to grow and adapt."