Aloof is a branding consultancy based in Sussex, UK. We recently talked to their Directors, James Crossett and Sam Aloof.
What inspired you to start Aloof?
An innate need to be creating, to add value, to be imaginative, to solve problems or improve the status quo. To contribute to the quality of people’s lives and see them enjoying the work we produce.
What do you consider to be your best piece of work to date?
Every client, brief and set of circumstances is very individual so it’s hard to compare one project against another. We’re mostly looking forward too, so the next project tends to be the one that has the studio’s focus…
“We have an innate desire to reduce when we design.”
What was the process like in creating Aloof’s new identity, and realising you needed a completely stripped back look?
We have an innate desire to reduce when we design, so it was less of a realisation and more of an instinct to be as reductive as we could be given it was our own project. Without compromise.
Do you believe design can ever be too simple or reduced?
Did you view the Gloria Cortina art book as a continuation of the identity you created, or did you feel it required a different approach?
It unquestionably relates to the body of work we have produced for Gloria, but we were mindful that it would need to work as a self-contained piece for global distribution. Therefore a new typographic approach, set of graphic devices and colour palette were developed exclusively for the book during its 18 month creation.
Did you face any challenges in taking Pentagram’s initial visual identity and strategy for Rathfinny and using it for your parts of the project?
Getting up-to-speed on a brand identity scheme you were not initially involved is always a challenge requiring extensive research, learning and interpretation. In this instance we chose to be bold, and rather than being overly reverent to what Pentagram had established, we set out to understand it and then interpret and implement it on our own terms. This allowed us to think freely and to move the brand forward with some smart thinking, whilst relating to Pentagram’s unquestionably sound vision.
“In this instance we chose to be bold, and rather than being overly reverent to what Pentagram had established.”
If you could only create with one typeface ever again, what would it be?
Restricted to just one typeface, we have no doubt we’d feel compelled to start drawing our own. We’ve adapted typefaces in the past where we haven’t been able to find a face that quite communicates what we need it to, so we don’t imagine it would take long for our uncompromising instinct to kick in.
When creating an identity as minimal as your work for Leigh Simpson, what are the most important things to get right?
Taking the time to explain our thinking proved essential to enabling him to believe. Leigh had got used to a certain way of presenting his work so to him the approach of reduction was bold, and the temptation to add never far away. To us it was logical to put a super-edit of his work centre stage – people employ photographers to let their pictures do the talking right?
“Taking the time to explain our thinking proved essential to enabling him to believe.”
What is your dream branding project?
One where Aloof can make a real difference to someone’s business, working with people who understand the game changing role design can play.
What are the pros and cons of being a design studio outside of London?
From the outset in 1999, it’s been a conscious decision to set up our studio outside of London, despite the fact that historically the majority of our clients were London based. To us, it’s all pros. We perceive that being in amongst creative influence, as a constant, can be detrimental to our independent creative thinking. We’re openly influenced by what happens in London and beyond, but being ‘outside’ helps us to remain firmly connected to what we believe in.