Combo’s thoughtful identity for ASHYA is a progressive act of cultural preservation and storytelling
NYC-based strategy and design agency Combo have partnered with luxury leather goods brand ASHYA, founded by American and Jamaican design duo Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, to craft their identity – reflecting the tactility, elegance and legacy of their products in the process. “There are very few American heritage brands owned and created by Black and Indigenous people because of colonisation and slavery,” Founder and Head of Design Kapono Chung tells us, discussing the context of the brand. “When creating ASHYA’s identity, we wanted storytelling to be at the core,” citing the erasure of language and culture through colonial takeover as a core motive. “Because it’s the way that culture is retained and passed from one generation to the next,” he explains, subsequently manifesting this idea in ASHYA’s logomark. An emblem that acts innately as an heirloom – an object preserving story, personality and culture.
The logomark in question is symmetrically constructed of four ‘A’s, facing one another as if in conversation, in doing so, creating powerful negative space between the four corners. “That negative space in the centre dances and moves differently every time you look at it,” Designer Marinique Mora tells us, “just as stories evolve and change every time you tell them.” Furthermore, the patterned application of the emblem becomes somewhat quilted or weaved, directly tying back to the traditional African textiles of ASHYA’s heritage. “Both basket weaving and quilting,” she continues, “are art forms of importance to Black-American and Black-Caribbean culture,” managing to embody the legacy and modernity of the brand in one.
ASHYA’s geographic background provided additional chromatic inspiration, informing the muted, warming hues that underlie the identity. “We went with a colour palette that is rich and earthy,” Chung explains, balancing natural tones with the luxury and quality innate to the brand. “We expanded on the warm atmosphere of ASHYA’s visual world by leaning into the colours you’d come across when travelling,” he adds, noting dark green and beige as colours representative of earth, orange of sunset and blues of the skies and seas.
The resulting tone is timeless, crafting a mood that spans the brand’s history, as supported by the appropriate use of Luzi Type’s Recife as the hero typeface. “It has a classic, antique look that still feels fresh and elevated,” Mora recalls, “and since the wordmark is a semi-serif with a high-contrast stroke, we wanted the typeface to have a similar calligraphic feel,” somewhat reflective of the high-fashion brands we are familiar with seeing. “It feels elegant while also feeling modern,” she adds, “that’s the balance we wanted for ASHYA,” complementing the symmetry of the emblem through the bookending of ‘A’s in the wordmark. “The ‘A’s on either end not only mirror each other but deliberately face outward,” Mora concludes, “symbolising the exchange of stories and conversation with the world.”