SocioDesign is a design and strategy agency based in Farringdon, London. We recently caught up with their Design Director, Mark Bloom.
How has the studio and the work you do evolved since you started?
In the last few years, packaging design has become a significant part of what we do. We are now often commissioned to create packaging design alongside a brand identity, in addition to this, we are involved in more digital work too as part of the wider scope of work. Recently we have even branched out into exhibition design, art direction and moving image.
Our client base has also become more diverse, as projects for international clients have gained recognition through social media, and clients from all over the world have become aware of what we do.
Can you give us some insight into the colour palette used for the Hedeker identity?
We designed the Hedeker brand to attract an affluent clientele and felt strongly that the colour palette and print finishing should convey this too.
Dark blue is a colour traditionally associated with the finance sector so rather than ignore this, we instead decided to embrace the colour and give it a contemporary twist.
The chosen colour palette of imperial blue, rich chocolate brown and bronze foil combined with a tactile mix of papers creates a distinctive and sophisticated brand that helps Hedeker stand out amongst their competitors without alienating their existing clientele.
Why did you decide to go with a typographic approach for Capital Newspaper?
Capital is a quarterly newspaper from Hedeker that reviews and summarises the behaviours of financial markets from the previous 3 months.
The decision to take a typographic approach within the magazine was an easy one, namely due to the fact that we were dealing with data driven information that perfectly lent itself to a typographic interpretation.
This unique typographic approach is quite different to the traditional photographic or illustrative solutions commonly seen in other publications, helping to making Capital unique within it’s industry.
The typographic layouts reflect the underlying information within each article. Using the same fonts and typographic rules throughout each issue, ensures a consistent brand image.
Each issue of the magazine will use a different paper stock relating to the time of the year it’s printed. Can you expand on that concept?
We wanted to make it easier for the reader to distinguish between each quarter, as such the colours selected for each issue represents the time of year it is produced, for example; grey for winter, white for spring and pink for summer. This extended colour palette gives us a great opportunity to bring different colours and paper stocks into each publication.
A muted colour palette of pastels and greys allows us to print each issue in black and metallic bronze ink.
Is it ever a challenge to stick to your trademark reductive style during a project?
We always try to apply the 'Less is More' philosophy to our design work, particularly with identity design. This means stripping away anything from a logo that could complicate the overall shape and be deemed unnecessary. In addition to this, we always consider how legible the logo will be at small sizes.
This reductive style of design is part of our studio process and has become second nature to us, we simply wouldn’t release a project that didn’t reflect these principles. Showing this range of work within our portfolio also means that we have the potential to attract clients requiring this style of work.
What was it like working with Damien Weighill to create the illustrations for Rambling Muse?
Damien’s illustrations have a really fun and distinctive character to them - the very reason we commissioned him to work on this particular project.
His illustrations played a key part in the overall look of the Rambling Muse brand. When briefed, he really understood the brands persona and tailored his illustrations accordingly.
What factors do you think are important in creating a successful relationship between a logo or monogram and a wordmark?
Given the choice – I would always have a marque and logotype sitting separately from one another. If you look at our website you will notice we have done this with several projects including the work for Twice and Rambling Muse to name just a few.
Of course, it is not always possible to do this and would be considered as good practice to allow for a lock-up in your designs. Typically when doing so, we would design a lock-up to work on a grid system (much like a base line grid for type) where the individual elements are scaled proportionally to the grid. In addition to this, where possible we would design both a vertical and horizontal lock-up to allow for a greater range of applications.
Having recently moved, what would you say are the key things needed to create a positive studio environment?
You spend more time with your work colleagues than you do with your friends and family, so it is important to create a fun, friendly and productive work environment where the team feel connected and actually look forward to coming into work.
We hold Monday morning meetings where the team get a chance to discuss work in progress and any new work we have coming in. It is also allows individuals to raise any concerns or ask questions about a particular project they are working on.
With an expanding design team it can be difficult for our designers to see what the others have been working on, so with this in mind, we have just introduced ‘show and tell’. This is held once a week and is an opportunity for the team to share what they have been working on to the rest of the design team.
A good sense of humour is a must! We try not to take ourselves too seriously here at Socio and try to keep a healthy level of office banter! We all get on really well with each other and it is important that any new team member fits within the team dynamics.
Regular social outings are an important part of team bonding and range from breakfasts and lunches to after-work beers or design events. Once a year we arrange a team weekend away somewhere in the UK. Previous destinations include Bournemouth and Leeds with this years destination TBC.
What are some of your favourite books to have in the studio?
We have several ‘go to books’ in the studio, these include: Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann, The New Guide to Identity by Wolff Olins, Designing Type by Karen Cheng, Data Flow – Visualising Information in Graphic Design by Gestalten and Graphic Design Manual – Principles and Practice by Armin Hofmann. Personal favourites other than the books mentioned include well thumbed copies of Twenty-six characters – An Alphabetical book about Nokia Pure by Gestalten and NoiseFour by Attik.
How do you feel about the design culture in London at the moment?
London arguably has some of the best designers in the world and not just in Graphic Design. At Socio we are fortunate enough to have a global client list with more than 80% of our clients being based outside of the UK.
London is an amazing place to live and work with an abundance of talented graphic designers and studios. Since the introduction of social media, the design scene can actually feel quite small, particularly in London. Many designers follow each other on Twitter and Instagram and it is not uncommon to run into them at a design event or be introduced via a mutual design friend.
The vast majority of London based designers are a friendly bunch and having the same profession in common means that advice or supplier information is commonly shared. Over the years we have collaborated with several studios and met many great designers, some of whom we now consider to be good friends.
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