New York-based, Finnish designer Lotta Nieminen has recently updated her website with a year’s worth of projects, each of them refined and showcasing a mastery of subtlety, now a trademark of Lotta’s style. One of my favorites is the branding, art direction and website design for Paintbox, a modern manicure studio in New York offering classic manicures and a curated selection of nail art. Making something look simple, effortless and beautiful is one of the trickiest aspects of creative endeavours, and usually the result of relentless study. I had the opportunity to witness Lotta present the making of this project during OFFF Barcelona 2014, and follow her initial struggles that ultimately culminated in a beautifully rounded, successful project – not surprising from a designer of her caliber. Brand strategy by Figure NY and website development by NoFavorite.
Less is the story of a wine lover who wanted to make good wine affordable for all. His idea was simple: remove the superfluous and keep the essential. By selling his wine in bulk, our client aimed to reinvent the customer experience, inviting shoppers to fill their bottles directly from wooden casks at his shop. This way is how Landor introduces the magnificent branding project that was created for Less — a minimalist identity that reflects the brand’s goals, whilst communicating only what is necessary, removing the superfluous and going beyond aesthetics. Following this discourse, the identity appears only by removing material, either sandblasted on bottles or cut out on recycled paper, showing four slightly modified stripes to form the word Less. The packaging also becomes bespoke with the label customized by a drop of the wine it contains. I also suggest watching the superb video brand presentation, because for this project, D&AD Awards honored Landor’s work by featuring it in their Branding book of 2014.
This beautiful example of minimalist graphic design has been created by Sydney based Zé Studio for the start-up technology company Connected Apps. The project included identity concept and development, as well as an icon set and animated monogram for use within the company’s app framework. Designers explain: In defining the identity for Connected Apps, we avoided obvious connections from point A—B. In our strategic research, we came across a formula known as Dijkstra’s Algorithm which finds the shortest connecting path using a series of placed nodes (commonly used to find the shortest path for navigation maps). This formed the basis of the visual identity. I really like the subtlety of this approach. Instead of illustrating the concept, designers stimulated our imagination by the clever use of the dotted grid. The nodes do not visually appear to connect until the monogram animates from a start to end point in the shortest path – a way in which Connected Apps aim to reach their clients’ audiences.
The brand and innovation firm Wolff Olins has developed this beautifully simple project for Infotech Enterprises, an Indian firm specialised in engineering and data services. Seeking a strategic change, the new brand Cyient was created to generate new customers, talent and even acquisitions, starting a new chapter after two decades. The new identity for Cyient is incredibly simple in its design, with a customised “E” with a dot for the logo and for the communication — a characteristic that will always make the brand identifiable, even without using the logo. Furthermore, this dot will be ever present and will reinforce all the visual elements of the brand — framing texts, images, graphics or videos. A simple yet powerful concept. You can also watch a video presentation of the brand.
It is well known that for many years great design has come from the north of Europe, and this is another perfect example: Design From Finland, a project by the brand design agency Wekling from Finland -obviously- to indicate the origin of Finnish Design, a mark that grants The Association for Finnish Work. Wekling explains: Our approach to the design was very pragmatic. The mark has to work in internationally, so the words “Design from Finland” are required to make the mark’s meaning immediately understandable. We felt the mark also needed a visual clue or mnemonic that is memorable and recognizable. The “F:” -symbol meets this requirement, and can also be read as an abbreviation for “from Finland”. In addition, the “F:” -symbol has been designed to look like the Finnish flag. Wekling produced the circle shape as it is widely used in design objects and thus fits the visual language of many of the products it will be associated with. A simple design that transmits its message with intelligent solutions. The result? Elegance, efficacy and coherence. Bravo!
Hai Lien is a make up artist currently based in China, where she runs a make up academy. Her work covers skin care and colour make up and in order to initiate the wide market in the region into the true beauty of make up in a more effective manner as well as hand down her secret method, she has decided to launch her own cosmetics range in China — Hai Lien CC Cream. The design of the branding and packaging of Hai Lien’s new cosmetics line is by minimalist, a boutique design studio based in Gangnam, Seoul, Korea. Their philosophy in design is one I am certainly familiar with and one that most certainly applies to Hai Lien’s branding: We believe good designs can be achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. For this project, the designer’s explain some design characteristics: The distinctive staircase patterns are the motive of Hai Lien’s professionalism, and the classy black and white colour scheme will differentiate the range from showy colour scheme of its competitors on the shelf. From the minimalist aesthetic of the bottle, the type design of the logo, to...
Some months ago Moving Brands designed a new identity for Blank Digital, a New York-based boutique retouching and digital capture company. Blank were seeking a more effective strategy in order to help establish relationships with the top luxury, fashion and media businesses of the world. Moving Brands explains the design: We defined their brand narrative as ‘realizing image potential’ – an ambitious stance that focuses on the real business benefit they offer. The monochromatic identity system has an attitude and an edginess to appeal to their high-fashion audience. The mark references Blank’s own editing process; it appears to be at the point of mid-creation, but still elegant. The soft colour palette and typeface nod to the family-focused values and love of tailored, crafted elements, and characteristics of the business that were often referenced in workshops with the Blank founders. Most importantly, the system provides a sophisticated, flexible foundation from which their own work can shine. A wonderful piece of work, from the physical to the digital media, that set a guide for all applications of the brand, being a perfect mix between sophistication, simplicity and neutrality.
Savvy, a multidisciplinary studio based in Nuevo León, Mexico, are no strangers to Minimalissimo, having previously featured their outstanding branding of Casa Bosques Chocolates. Today we are celebrating their latest design work — the branding of fashion label Håndværk. Håndværk is the Danish word that stands for hand-crafted or artisanal, and the branding reflects Håndværk’s nature: elegant simplicity. Clean lines and a simple typographic treatment based on minimal Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics, Savvy explains: We have communicated Håndværk’s quality through a graphic language that is based on minimal aesthetics, predominantly white. Their principle of simplicity and upmost quality is always reflected in all supporting materials, from their packaging to the language used for their texts. From the superbly simple and elegant design finishes of Savvy, to Håndværk’s clothing line itself, this is a perfect example of beautiful minimalism that is an absolute pleasure to share with you.
Nordic House is a a dry-cleaning company based in San Francisco who employed the branding talents of Anagrama from Mexico to develop the identity of its shop. Emulating Scandinavian design of strong geometric forms and a clean type within the colors of the cool nordic landscape, the result is this strong and minimal identity in all its collateral. It is as if the product, which is your dry-clean goods, will be delivered with the same level of freshness and clarity. I’ve always been a fan of Anagrama’s work. Their designs are often thoughtful and creative and Nordic House is just that: simple and effective.
Singapore-based Foreign Policy Design Group are in charge of this beautifully simple branding and wayfinding design for the Steven Holl-designed Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing, China. What I love about this project is that the graphic design draws its power basically from language. Oriental characters are typically very visual and graphic in nature, and the composition of Chinese and English create an elegant balance that stands strong on its own. The use of black to accentuate the branding material is also very elegant. What a lesson in simplicity.
The contemporary cycling culture is really easy to embrace these days with beautiful graphic and packaging designs like James Greig, who is behind the clean and elegant brand and site, Cyclelove. It is a refreshing site that is actually less about bicycles and more about people and their bicycle lifestyles. And after I have spent too much time going through the photostream of all bike related images, the features on all bicycle paraphernalia, I found the perfect gift for fellow minimalist design-loving, bicycle-riding enthusiasts in this simple ‘Just Ride’ limited edition print of abstracted bicycle frames by Greig on heavyweight matt black paper with a white gloss ink, hand-numbered, and packaged in a custom CycleLove poster tube.
Lately I am much more interested in graphic design, so that is why today I bring you another piece of great minimalist rebranding for Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, in this case, a project developed by the Norwegian Neue Design Studio. Norwegian Shipowners Association has around 160 members – shipowners in the tanker and bulk transport sector, short sea sector and offshore activities. We wanted to create an iconic, simple and elegant identity that would communicate NSA’s universe as well as being serious, bold and forward-looking, showing NSA as a competent and global actor. Again I find this to be very effective work, with a great combination of simplicity and symbology, representing the open sea using just two rectangles in different blue tone colors. I hope to discover and share with you similar rebranding works that are just as impressive!