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Otherwhere Collective’s identity for TOCA is a showcase of typographic elegance and Minion Pro genitals

Combining the allure and sexual liberation of 60s psychedelia and the welcome increasing openness of contemporary sexual conversations – looking to demolish existing expectations and shame felt towards sexual pleasure – NYC design practice Otherwhere Collective have gone no holds barred with their identity for TOCA. Drawing from inspiration ranging from 70s glitz to vintage pornography and space disco, the CBD-infused lubricant takes its name from the Spanish word for ‘touch,’ and makes up an affirmative, positive and enthusiastic line of products created for all genders, sexualities and bodies.

The resulting identity consists of two primary elements; the typography and the imagery – both of which are as considered and strong as one another. Interested in designing something to challenge creative and provocative expectation, the collage-style imagery of the identity adroitly and artfully removes directly explicit aspects of photographs, resulting in something that responds to censorship, whilst being equally erotic and suggestive. “The client had said they wanted to make some noise and talk about things considered taboo,” Creative Director Andrew Bellamy explains, “so that was a green light to break out of the cliché botanicals photography and be a bit more subversive and incendiary.” 

Focusing on sex, plants and space – although “not necessarily all present at once,” Bellamy adds – the image-making concept and process was deeply rooted in the brand’s core principles, making both direct and allusive connections to the products and what they provide. Using some images from NASA’s Hubble telescope archives, Bellamy explains “they show a cosmic side that comes from the CBD and the enhanced euphoria at climax, and generally the client’s vocabulary when they describe the product,” whilst in a much more grounded sense, other imagery was stripped from vintage porn magazines. “It was important to the client and ourselves to make images inclusive, so it’s not just one colour skin or one sex or sexual preference,” Bellamy adds, crafting diverse and inclusive images that turn photographs that once were quite unpleasant into something “suggestively erotic and even romantic.”

Mirroring the organic and free-flowing nature of the content in the bespoke wordmark created for TOCA, crafted to emulate both the “sexual wetness” and the total flamboyancy of TOCA and their products – with a literal connection between all the letterforms to reference the name itself. Drawing inspiration from both sides of the aisle – from Vienna Secession to Herb Lubalin – the dimensions of the wordmark were determined by the context; designed to fill as much of the printable space as possible on the bottle. Also reflecting TOCA’s character, the wordmark is loud and proud – “it’s designed to be used big,” Bellamy adds. 

In a sentence perhaps never said before, Bellamy explains, “in the end, Minion Pro made the most elegant genitals,” using the typeface to create a set of punctual symbols to represent the lubricants areas of expertise. With the product’s being named after the Spanish words for vagina and arse, Bellamy tells us that these dictionary-defined “vulgar” words needed to be made more elegant, “creating a subverted sophistication and shorthand symbol that can be incorporated in the names,” as well as stand on their own. The result is a set of universally understood symbols that are both elegant, provocative and, importantly, “completely innocent and uncensorable,” Bellamy adds. Accompanying Minion Pro’s genitals and the bespoke wordmark is Optima for the rest of the brand’s copy and ephemera; a period reference due to its significant use throughout the 70s for brands such as Vaseline.

Balancing this fascinating concoction of frivolity, sexuality and typographic expertise is a succinct monochromatic colour palette. “We wanted to pair the camp flamboyance with something elegant, high-end and classic,” Bellamy explains, creating a typographic system the reserved colours of which don’t clash with the vibrancy collages. “We had initially thought that the logo would work really well with contrasting colours,” Bellamy tells us, “but the images of space felt better for a sense of euphoria rather than psychedelia,” concluding, “it’s CBD and orgasms, not acid.”

Typefaces: Minion Pro by Robert Slimbach / Optima by Linotype

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