Studio Oker’s inviting identity for UX design studio Okse is rooted in character and country
Found in Stavanger, Norway, independent multi-industrial UX design studio Okse keep the personable at the front of their practice – excelling at what they do and forming lasting working relationships along the way. In an effort to greater express the friendliness and personality of their studio, Okse called on similarly named, and similarly addressed, Stavanger-based design agency Studio Oker to refresh their identity. The result is a charming, illustrative and typographically focused brand that is far from prescripted; rooting itself conceptually within the land and the bull.
The land in question is Jæren, “a large flat lowland area in Norway where Okse is located,” Baard Kolstad, Partner at Studio Oker explains, “it is one of the most important agricultural areas of Norway, known for its rough climate and its hard-working, straight forward and stubborn farmers.” With the adage of both the farmer and the ox having a good life due to the good soil, Okse aims to metaphorically distil this into the company; both internally and in the exterior brand.
Starting with their namesake bull (which is ‘Okse’ in Norweigian), Studio Oker approached this by creating some literally, punctual horns constructed of parentheses – both signifying the bull as well as utilising the coding-based language of web development. The typeface chaperoning this symbol is Commercial Type’s Dignitas; a stark and sharp serif typeface, who’s acute construction is similarly indicative of horns, as well as providing a beautiful concoction of playful expression and scholarly refinement.
To further extend the significance of location to Okse, Studio Oker worked alongside London-based illustrator Jay Cover to craft a series of illustrative Norweigian landscapes to accompany the brand’s inviting typography. “When we were considering what illustrator could fit with the identity Jay came as a natural choice,” Kolstad recalls. “His illustrations strike this balance between being witty and reflecting the light-hearted tone,” he adds, maintaining a somewhat corresponding graphic quality due to its geometry and accuracy, whilst containing a personality and warmth that is emblematic of Okse. This vibrancy and optimism is also mirrored in the chosen brand colour, the sunshine yellow of which both exudes an approachability alongside a locational reference to the crops of Jæren, and the post-it notes of Okse’s workshops.
In the end, Studio Oker’s delivered identity for Okse is worlds away from the overtly technical aesthetic that we are accustomed to accompanying UX agencies; providing a characterful, thoughtful and inviting brand. “It became clear early in the process that Okse’s down-to-earth and straight-forward approach was what set them apart from other UX agencies,” Kolstad explains, recalling how Okse’s attitudes to creative problem-solving are incomparable to those in the field. “While competitors are flashing VR-headsets and complex node illustrations they are choosing the simplest and most effective solution to problems they are tasked with,” Kolstad concludes, adding, “UX is all about people not about tech, it was the only approach that felt right.”