New packaging design collaboration with Playboy in LA

I’m delighted to announce a new collaboration with Playboy in Los Angeles. I’ll be working on a range of packaging for a yet to be disclosed product range.

It’s interesting to see how the Playboy brand has evolved over the years and with Cooper Hefner assuming creative control of the brand his father launched 64 years ago, now is an exciting time to be working with this iconic brand.

Stay tuned for more details, I’ll share as and when I can.


Increasing trend for album cover murals in Los Angeles

Each time I’ve been to my barber’s on Melrose Ave in recent months I’ve noticed a new album cover mural painted on the wall. Today was no exception with LCD Soundsystem’s forthcoming new album ‘American Dream’ being painted in the same place I saw Calvin Harris’s ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1’ album a month before. This latest mural find was painted by the talented folks over at Hattas Public Murals.

LA is known for great murals with huge block-stretching pieces from artists like Retna, Shepard Fairey and D*Face. But the more commercial facing ‘album cover’ murals are somewhat of a new phenomenon, or at least they are getting more prevalent.

With the world turning/already turned into social media addicts, it’s no coincidence that record labels are seeing the potential of Instagram and Snapchat users to help promote their artists.

There is something very tangible about a painted mural, firstly they generally look great, the walls are often textured and painting over drainpipes and electrical boxes adds that layer of authenticity that is difficult to achieve in printed billboards and posters. There is also the physical relation to the sidewalks. They are normally very accessible making those Instagram photos so much easier to take and to place yourself in the frame.

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Having said that, I’m not sure how popular this mural will be, the Twitter backlash has already started by those who don’t like the simplistic approach LCD Soundsystem have taken with this album cover.

There is much debate about advertising versus art when it comes to our streets and cities. Street art origins are based around freedom of expression and having a public platform to show work. But there is no denying that street art is now, for the most part, a commercial enterprise and many artists are paid to place their work and ‘brand’ on walls much in the same way an advertiser pays to have their product on a billboard.

For me, the painted commercial murals are a nice balance. They are showing product but also showing talent in the form of those who paint them, while giving fans those Instagram moments they crave.

And I’d rather have a painted mural ‘product advert’ on a street over an ugly roadside billboard any day.


New website refresh get’s me thinking about website life cycles

I have just completed an update to my website to showcase new work and some of the current web trends such as the use of vibrant colors and more CSS animation. Even though the fundamental UX design and content has not changed significantly, the updates have had a dramatic impact on the overall look of the website.

My previous website launched less than 18 months ago and at the time I thought it looked pretty good, yet when I compare it to this updated website it now feels slightly dated.

This got me thinking. What is the life cycle of the average website and are smaller ongoing iterations better than one big refresh?

I guess it depends on how robust the development side of things are. If your website is not mobile responsive then you obviously need to create a new website using the latest responsive techniques. But if this has already been dealt with then refreshing your website, be it a ‘re-skinning’ with new colors, typefaces, images, etc, or adding new content, the process can actually be quite straightforward.

In recent months I have completed three website refreshes for clients and given the cost of design and implementation versus the results, it turns out to be a surprisingly cost effective project to undertake.

The moral to this story, don’t keep putting it off, thinking it’s some huge costly undertaking, your competitors will be forging ahead while you are left looking at the past, both figuratively and literally.


Does a European design aesthetic still exist?

Hardly a week goes by without being approached by a design agency or recruiter asking for a designer with a ‘European design aesthetic’. Generally I aways reply, ‘yes that’s me’, I’m from Europe and I get what your after, but what exactly defines a European design aesthetic and does it still really exist?

I remember working at big design agencies in London who always had walls full of design books, these books were often divided into world regions or had dedicated books for each part of the world (London, Tokyo, New York, etc). Flicking through these books at the time you could clearly see a difference between European and American design.

European design tended to be more understated and cleaner, with minimal type usage and illustrations, mostly using Sans Serif typefaces. By contrast the American designs were type heavy, often using copywriting led communication with photography and serif typefaces. Not any better or any worse, just an overall heavier appearance. I do remember preferring the majority of European designs I saw.

That’s what I remember from design books some 15 years ago, but is it still like that?

Having worked in Los Angeles for the last 4 years and collaborated with designers from the US and other parts of the world on a daily basis I really don’t see that much of a difference anymore, with the exception of FMCG packaging which mostly feels dated in the US. I think the explosion of US based tech companies and the fact almost all brands have a global reach, along with our reliance on the digital space to expose brands I now believe the playing field has very much leveled. We are essentially seeing similar graphic design styles around the world.

Simplicity of communication is proving the most successful form of communication in what is an ever-increasingly congested world.

Don’t get me wrong, European design has always had a certain level of prestige in America, whether it be cars, furniture or packaging. But I now suspect those requests that come in from agencies asking for a ‘European design aesthetic’ are really just asking for ‘a great graphic designer’, and being from Europe does not automatically mean you’ll get that, there are amazing designers all over the world.

So my advise, which is pretty obvious, look at their portfolio and choose designers based on experience and their ‘own design aesthetic’. If that aesthetic works for your client then your good to go.


Contemporary luxury brand in West Hollywood

Trying to stand-out within the real estate world is not easy, especially in Los Angeles where competition is fierce. But with the collaboration of the forward thinking owners of The Sunset Team in West Hollywood we have managed to do just that.

For this project I created print collateral, signage and advertising that feels unique and contemporary within the Los Angeles real estate market. This has helped The Sunset Team gain excellent market recognition and a sense of exclusivity while promoting the cutting edge luxury homes they develop and sell in the Hollywood Hills and West Hollywood.