Philippe Dionne Bussières’ identity for Den draws inspiration from a 70s home repair manual
Based out of New York state, Den offers architectural plans and ready-to-assemble kits for tiny houses and cabins; allowing for the DIY construction of affordable and beautiful accommodation, with next to no experience required. Aiming to help people “feel better, live simpler and dream bigger,” Den design their products to be passed down through generations.
Focusing on the brand’s quintessential DIY spirit, Berlin-based Canadian designer Philippe Dionne Bussières developed Den’s visual identity to feel distinctly down-to-earth. He found considerable inspiration for the project from one of his father’s old home repair manuals, ‘Manuel complet du bricolage, Reader’s Digest Selection, 1975.’ “Not strictly in terms of typeface choices, but definitely in spirit,” Dionne Bussières explains; with the reference apparent in his choices of pragmatic layouts, negative space, solid blocks, rich colour and an overarching sense of clarity.
Sculpted from Future Extra Bold – a modernist sans serif rich with architectural spirit – the Den wordmark acts a reliable anchor for the accompanying visual language’s playful elements. “The sturdy wordmark plays into established codes while showing distinct gestures representing the DIY brand ethos,” Dionne Bussières adds. Aiming to find a balance between “matter-of-factness and elegance,” he chose Kleukens-Egyptienne and “hardworking classic” ITC Franklin Gothic to harmoniously contrast with the boldness of the wordmark; resulting in an unexpected yet reliable typographic pairing.
Alongside the effortless colour palette of rich, natural tones, illustrations from Florence Rivest play a key role in Den’s visual language. Also informed by the style of the aforementioned 70s home repair manual, the characterful drawings aim to express Den’s core brand values and deepen its vocabulary. “Nature, and our place in it as humans, is at the very heart of Florence’s practice,” Dionne Bussières tells us of his choice to work with Rivest; adding that “this sensitivity to the subject matter and her endearing line work was a match made in heaven.”