James Beard Foundation Announces Changes To Design Awards

Last year, while most of the food world buzzed about who won what James Beard Award, we couldn't believe how little attention was given over to the Design category. Maybe it was because the category itself seemed too narrow or perplexing to restaurateurs? To be sure, when we launched our Design section, we set out to cover anything from restaurant interiors to kitchen items to the graphic design of menus, logos and such.

Now, the Beard Awards seem to have corrected this flaw in their Design category, explaining it for those vying for the prize in 2013, and accounting for larger and smaller restaurants. Read the release below and then scroll down for a gallery of last year's entries, which we covered in our series "Eye on the Prize."

The Restaurant Design categories of the James Beard Foundation Awards recognize design as an integral and essential element of the dining experience. During the last 15 years a number of trend-setting and now iconic restaurants have received the Beard Foundation's Restaurant Design Award, ranging from the highest fine-dining establishments to more casual spaces. Consistent among both winners and finalists is the mission of fully integrating design and cuisine. In recognition of the growing diversity of restaurant types, this year the Foundation will now name two winners for restaurant design: one for restaurants with 75 seats or under, and one for those with more than 76 seats.

"The Restaurant Design Award acknowledges the growing importance of good design in all types of dining establishments," said Brooke Hodge, director of exhibitions and publications at Los Angeles's Hammer Museum and chair of the James Beard Foundation's Restaurant Design Committee. "These two new awards will allow us to recognize and reward a broader range of design talent." Architecture, interior design, graphic design, and all other design aspects of a restaurant will now be considered comprehensively in each submission for restaurant design.