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Åhléns by Happy FB

Opinion by Richard Baird

Visual identity, shopping bags, packaging and signage by Happy FB for Swedish retailer Åhléns

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.

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StrangeLove Lo-Cal Soda by Marx Design

Opinion by Richard Baird & Seth Rowden

Graphic and structural design created by New Zealand studio Marx Design for soft drinks brand StrangeLove

StrangeLove is an Australian soft drinks brand that began with a four flavour range of energy drinks. Although mass-produced, each of these was created with the intention of evoking a taste of the homemade through carefully sourced and high-quality organic ingredients. The range was developed in response to energy drink brands who StrangeLove believed had failed to live up to their premium positioning.

Keen to avoid the tricks and tropes of the category and secure a witty, eye-catching and original look, New Zealand-based Marx Design worked with StrangeLove to improve on the illustrative character that had been used across the brand’s earlier bottles, developing simpler compositions surrounded by plenty of white space and paired with sharp and humourous copywriting. Check out the BP&O review of these here.

StrangeLove went on to create a range of mixers, organic soft drinks and source a mineral water, each with its own unique visual language. 2019 sees the brand continue to expand their range and explore and challenge the drinks market, further working with Marx Design, this time on a range of “Lo-Cal” sodas.

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The Architect’s Bookshop by Garbett

Opinion by Richard Baird

Logo, business cards, bookmarks, signage and tote bags by Australian studio Garbett for The Architect's Bookshop

The Architect’s Bookshop is a new design-focused retailer, located in Sydney’s Surrey Hills, devoted to the books of architecture and interior design, landscaping and urban development. The space was conceptualised as being more than a bookshop but a place to take time out to browse, a chance to engage with the material and form of the books, and as a place for those interested in all things related to the built environment to meet and engage in informal conversation and design discourse.

Australian design studio Garbett worked with The Architect’s Bookshop to develop a visual identity that would capture the spirit of the space, the positioning ‘a place for architecture lovers’ and comfortable with and distinct from a material and graphic sophistication of architectural publishing, channelling the universal, enduring and immediate form language associated with architectural structure and book reading. This project covered, alongside logotype, tote bag, bookmark/business card, bookstands, signage, price stickers, gift cards and art direction.

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