7 identities that embody the edgy side of branding, with projects from DIA, Hayley Lim and more
Looking for something a bit less white and a bit less Helvetica, and more unconventional, energetic and expressive? We hear you. We’ve dug into the TBI archives and gathered a selection of our favourite ‘edgy’ branding projects. If you want imagery inspired by transcendent experiences, chaotic kitchen ecosystems, and lip-smackingly bitter lemonade – this is the place to be.
Reacting against the cliches of restaurant merchandise, Office of Overview’s exploratory merch line ‘House Special’ for Mr Bao is a celebration of the eclectic restaurant environment. Founded in Peckham, London, Mr Bao is an independent Taiwanese restaurant series and beloved crowd-pleaser among London foodies. So when London-based creative studio Office Of Overview were invited to create the merch line, they crafted a maximalist range of designs which take visual cues from the packaging boxes, sell-by dates, stickers and safety paraphernalia that exist in kitchens. The range is also dedicated to championing the staff and ‘stars’ of the restaurant – represented within the custom wordmark with a star motif.
“When life gives you lemons, make some really f*cking sour lemonade,” says Montreal-based designer Hayley Lim. Inspired by the founder’s sour, unhealthy prior relationships and her history of heartbreak and toxicity, StillBitter Lemonade Co. is an ultra-bitter and zero-sugar lemonade with raw emotions at its core. Working alongside the StillBitter team, Lim sought to use the brand’s story to demonstrate that brands can be deeply personal. Pairing bold copy with equally striking typography, she introduces Type Department and Bouk Ra’s Faust with Kilotype’s Oldschool Grotesk, creating a compelling juxtaposition between sharp and tall letterforms that echo the brand’s powerful personality.
Embracing the idea of ‘collection,’ New Zealand music festival Nest Fest brings together an eclectic group of musicians, creatives, fans and communities; collectively forming a free-spirited, bohemian nest worthy of the festival’s name. Kiwi New York-based designer and artist Hugo Christian-Slane channelled the event’s eccentric spirit, founding principles and sense of locality through a confident combination of bespoke lettering, colour and composition. Christian-Slane turned to AI for a striking catalogue of duo-tone imagery, created using the festival’s existing record of photography from 2019 onwards. The colours come from the hues of native New Zealand birdlife, further signifying the dedication to context, locality and community.
Who doesn’t love a bit of metaphysical fitness? Well, Mythical State Of has your back. The online store and journal aims to foster a like-minded community of outdoor connoisseurs by collating and curating sports and transcendent experiences. The identity and website design for Mythical State Of comes from the mind of Prague-based designer and art director Sasyk Mihal, who called upon the aesthetics of cults and the supernatural. Over 100 icons and glyphs were created for the project, which are arranged in posters, social media assets, and on the site itself. The brand elements all draw together under the umbrella an urgent bright red.
Founded and launched by makeup artist Caylin McDonie, EnKo Beauty is a cosmetics brand determined to blend a sustainable, anti-waste, consumer-conscious practice with revered modern beauty standards. Copenhagen-based design studio Hugmun translated the artistry of McDonie’s work into an ethereal, textured, calligraphic visual language – resulting in a wonderfully unique, and semi-surreal brand. The elegant, swirling and curling typographic direction is led by Hugmun’s own typeface Rabbit Hole, a fluid, organic display typeface that mirrors the eccentric flourishes of McDonie’s makeup artistry.
NYC and Chamonix-based studio DIA looked to the fields of fashion and culture when developing their identity for smlXL – a technology start-up aiming to make public computers more accessible and understandable. Aiming to illustrate scale, exponential growth, and momentum in a playful way, DIA developed a p5js-based custom tool for generating an unlimited quantity of kinetic and static outputs using only the company name’s five characters. It was essential to the studio that the typographic voice felt inviting rather than the typical ‘tech-y’ aesthetics associated with Web3 and other tech-based digital brands. They therefore chose JHA Times Now and Impact Nieuw 2019 from the Jung-Lee Type Foundry for its “powerful but inviting visual quality.”
Embracing the forward-thinking, under-represented music scene of Enschede, Groningen, Dutch club night Constructive Waves marks the first collaborative endeavour of Raya Recordings and Nachtkantoor, combining the institute’s resources, audiences and talent. Aptly named after constructive wave interference – an act that occurs when two identical wave frequencies and amplitudes collide to form a single, stronger wave – the club night sought to channel the local community’s close bond and passion for music in a fitting brand identity. Harnessing the project’s name as the central theme, designer Sylvan Hillebrand pursued the collision and combination of medium, messages and colours across the identity system. The result? A powerfully distinctive and process-led aesthetic exploration of form, style and type.
The hero patterns that lead the visual output – from social media templates and t-shirts to posters – start as generated images of simulated waves, introduced to symbolise the collaborative context of the event, as well as its community focus. The imagery is then distorted through continuous printing and scanning, eventually culminating in an entirely original kinetic motif that showcases the act of coming together; made distinctive via Hillebrand’s characterful colour combinations.
Office Of Overview