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Standing Out in a Sea of Tablets

Back in 2011 a loyal client of ours approached us with an opportunity to design a series of displays for a new Android-based tablet that was designed just for kids.  Fortunately a lot of legwork had already been done to create a playful graphic identity for the product, so our task was to interpret that identity into a three-dimensional form which, we hoped, would do it justice.  The end result is pictured below.  What do you think?  Many thanks to Reed Crawford for his help on this.

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Taking a Trip in the Industrial Design Time Machine

My grandfather, C. Hatfield Bills, was in industrial designer whose career inspired my own.  Born in 1890 and essentially self-taught, he designed cars for Chrysler and Chevrolet, wooden speedboats for Century, and elevators for Otis during the Great Depression.  He designed this scooter (below) in 1945 and rendered it in gouache on Canson Mi-Teintes paper.  I still have the original illustration and it's always been a favorite of mine.  I've often wondered what he would think of the effect computers have had on his profession.  With that in mind, I decided to bring his scooter concept into the 21st century by building it in Cinema 4D and rendering it in Keyshot to see how it might look if he had had access to the amazing design tools we take for granted today.  If you'd like to see more of his work, I posted more examples on my Behance profile.  Clicking this text will take you there.  

A couple of years ago I decided to attempt a portrait of him in oil (below).  He enjoyed oil painting, too.  Clicking this text will take you to some examples of his paintings and pastels.

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C. Hatfield Bills working away at his drawing board, below.

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A Toast to Modularity

How do you design a wine display that can expand or contract to accommodate almost any store environment?  That was the question we answered with this design for Toasted Head wine back in 2009.  This very simple and inexpensive shelf module comprised of wood panels and sheet metal will easily stack vertically and nest horizontally to grow from a small counter display up to a huge mass display.  The flexibility of this design was a big hit, not just because of it's flexibility, but because it also effectively evoked the identity of the brand, the name of which refers to a process whereby fermenting barrels are charred with fire to impart toasty flavors to the wine during the fermentation process.  What do you think?

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Wine with an industrial edge

Back in 2012, we were thrilled to have a chance to come up with some looks for a new floor display for Don & Sons wines.  Being fans of the modern industrial movement in architecture, we viewed the project as a great opportunity to see how its associated forms and finishes might be applied to a simple 3 or 4 case floor stand.  The fruits of our labor are below.  The version with the cellared bottles was ultimately selected for production.  What do you think?  

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Making a Stand for Gnarly Head

Back in 2008 we had a chance to generate some ideas for a small footprint floor display for Gnarly Head wines.  The colorful, rustic logo evoked a rustic but premium feel, so we did our best to interpret it into a three dimensional form that would meet their budget, bear the significant weight of 3 cases of wine, knock down flat for easy shipping and assemble with minimal tools.  We took special care to give the logo some dimension using die cuts, screened transparent panels and distortion-printed vac-forms.  The resulting designs are below.

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Premium Coffee Deserves a Nice Rack

Illy is the kind of brand that designers love to work with.  Their brand identity adheres well to the essential principles of good design that we're trained to uphold:  Simple, clean, bold, clear, functional, instantly identifiable.  That doesn't mean, however, that in designing a floor display for the brand that you shouldn't inject a dose of whimsy just to tone down the austerity a little in a ploy for better visibility in the visual chaos of the average store.   The trick here is to apply a measured approach so that the brand identity is maintained.  That was our aim in presenting the following concepts.  What do you think?

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how to sell Wine with Sports

It's long been a standard marketing practice for brands to temporarily align themselves with a team or event to create programs with the goal of increasing awareness.  This was the case when Mouton Cadet wines hooked up with the Tour de France back in 2010 and we were consulted to provide creative tie-ins between their wines and the wildly popular bicycle race. An agency provided us with some graphic elements, desired footprints were defined, and we went to town creating some big, dimensional, die-cut corrugated displays to show off the alliance as boldly as possible.  We provided a lot of work on this one.  The images below only comprise a portion of the project.

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Beer, Branding, and a Battery Boost

Heineken was looking for a bold presence at the bar, but they didn't want to just stick a sign in a frame or print up thousands of fragile table tents that would just get ignored and destroyed in a few days.  They wanted something with longevity that would attract attention and encourage some kind of engagement with the consumer and/or bartender by providing utility.  Collaborating with a long-time display company client company, we designed and illustrated several ideas which showcased the brand with LED lighting while integrating both existing bar accessories like napkin and straw holders as well as providing USB charging ports as a free convenience for bar patrons.  

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Bavarian Brandstand!

How do you make a tire display look upscale?  This was the challenge when we were asked to design a Pirelli tire display for BMW dealerships.  Our answer took the form of silver powder coated steel structure comprised of sleek sections using a visual vocabulary of ellipses.  A colorful banner provided a callback to Pirelli's racing heritage, and the BMW icon was glorified with a glossy dimensional treatment on top.

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At the Corner of Hollywood and Wine

Coppola Wines needed a way to showcase their signature "Director's Cut" wine in a floor display that would provide them with maximum merchandising capacity while communicating their brand identity in simple and bold way.  We decided to design a simple round metal rack and kick it up a notch by incorporating a helical banner to echo the packaging, then added a film reel base.  It was a hit! 

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Driving Brand Awareness in Costco

We had an opportunity a few years back to design a large counter display for a major security camera manufacturer who desired a strong presence in Costco.  Molding wasn't an option, so we tried to stick with forms that could be achieved with sheet metal construction.  The graphics were supplied by the customer, so our challenge was to provide space for them in a way that told the story to the consumer in as logical and concise a way as possible.  After an initial ideation round, we narrowed it down to two final directions and then picked a winner based on its simplicity and cost.  Ultimately two variations were manufactured and placed in stores nationwide.   What do you think? 

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Elevating Brands with Cardboard Sculpture

As a structural material, corrugated cardboard can be incredibly versatile and remarkably strong.  With the proper graphic treatment, strategically placed folds, and a few interesting die-cuts, a simple graphic idea can be transformed into an attention-grabbing visual exhibition that not only supports heavy packaging and boosts brand awareness, but also moves a heck of a lot more product out the door.  Few materials offer similar retail power so economically.  It's not surprising it's so popular.  

Designing a display in corrugate can be challenging.  It demands an approach which is the opposite of designing for a more permanent material (i.e., metal or wood) where you must first create a framework and then look for opportunities for graphics.  With corrugate, you often start with the graphic direction first and then try to figure out how to slice and dice it into pieces which will lend themselves to the desired scale while also providing opportunities for structural integrity.  One who designs both temporary and permanent displays must have a thorough understanding of structure, graphics, budgets, and manufacturing limitations in order to generate ideas which have any hope of ending up in stores.

These are some of our favorite cardboard sculptures from the last 15 years.  What do you think?

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Killing it at Retail

How do you create a versatile structure to securely hold, organize, and display energy shots, plus make it easily sit on a counter, hang on the side of a cooler, or attach to a glass door?  Our solution involved a steel ring structure featuring spring clips to grip the product, plus four supports designed to accommodate magnets, suction cups, or rubber feet.  It then completed the look with large interchangeable vacuum-formed icons to trumpet the brand to the consumer.  

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Seeing it makes you want to hear it

Back in 2002, Onkyo needed a high-end looking display to showcase their latest surround sound system.  The challenge was in devising an aesthetically appealing method to suspend the rear speakers behind the consumer so that they could enjoy the full audio experience.  I came up with a few options using powder coated metal tubing.  I also had some fun experimenting with an array of finishes and graphic treatment options for the structure of the display.  These are the result.  The renderings look crude to me now!  3D modeling and rendering have come a long way since then.

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