Opinion by Richard Baird
Åhléns began in 1899 as a small mail-order business. Aside from it being one of the oldest it has also grown to become one of the largest retail chains in Sweden. By carefully collating a variety of items across brands and price categories, the retailer maintains its relevance today, understanding and responding to the many ways in which its customers have changed over its long history. Happy FB, the Scandinavian design studio behind Åhléns new visual identity, puts it simply “to Åhléns’ urbane and socially conscious patrons, shopping and sustainability are not contradictions. Inspiration and trends do not equate to use and discard. Premium can be inexpensive and cheap doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in quality”. The retailer’s new visual identity expresses this by taking the well-established Åhléns wordmark and single red and builds this out into a range of changing graphic expressions, imbuing a variety of touchpoints, material and digital, with more character whilst retaining a recognisable immediacy through simplicity.
Opinion by Richard Baird
Espelma is a clean-burning natural wax candle company. They have an online store and have hosted pop-ups in London and New York. Each candle comes in a refillable glass vessel, designed by Espelma founders Clara and Claudia, and handmade on the Italian island of Murano. Espelma is distinguished by its mix of glass craft, distinctive colour and form, the clean-burning nature of the candle’s formulation and the thought given to sustainability by way of refills. Further, each fragrance is inspired by the two founder’s summers spent as children at their grandmother’s house near Barcelona. This regional reference, and the implication of a story can be seen woven throughout Espelma’s brand identity, designed by Commission, in the arched white architecture present in still life imagery, and in the colour and texture, shape and structure used across packaging.
Heyday is a range of 150 moderately-priced high-quality own-brand consumer tech products from American retailer Target and their first foray into the electronics and tech accessories sector. The range includes battery packs and chargers, cables, covers and wireless speakers amongst many other products. These share a form language that balances an everyday simplicity, robustness and utility with novelty and cheerfulness by way of shape, colour and materiality. Heyday’s visual identity and packaging design, developed by New York and San Francisco-based Collins in collaboration with Target Creative, is deceptively simple, it is loaded with a bunch of neat ideas that recognise, not just how product is presented and its value and functionalities communicated in store, but also how these products migrate and seek attention online. This can be seen in the approach to product, packaging and lifestyle photography.