Benjamin Hubert crafts “high-spirited” look for wellness start-up Never Go Alone

The wellbeing range includes refillable sanitisation products and customisable face masks aimed at city dwellers and travellers.

Design studio Layer has created the packaging and branding for wellness start-up Never Go Alone (NGA), prompted by the Covid pandemic.

It is the brand’s first collection, and includes a customisable and reusable face mask, refillable hand sanitiser as well as a case for sanitising wipes.

never go alone

NGA was started by Nga Nguyen, who became known as fashion’s ‘patient zero’ last year, when the fashion designer tested positive for Covid at international fashion weeks last February.

Layer founder Benjamin Hubert says that the brand is distinct from the slew of sanitisation products that followed the pandemic. “Good design takes time,” he adds. “You can’t just suddenly do in a few weeks what you can achieve in six months.”

A “high-spirited approach”

This longer time period allowed the team to tie in Nyugen’s ambition for the line, according to Hubert. “After she suffered from Covid, she did exactly what most people would love to do, which is try to have an answer to the difficulties she personally suffered from and what everyone else is going through,” he adds.

Hubert says that Nguyenwanted this to be reflected in the 2D and packaging design, and ultimately create a useable, sustainable and desirable brand. “It’s a really serious subject matter, but it doesn’t mean it can’t have a high-spirited approach.”

NGA’s n-shaped logo takes its inspiration from a “welcoming arched doorway” while the orange colour palette is an attempt to get as far away from the medical space as possible, Hubert adds. “It’s a companion through the difficult times that we face at the moment,” he says.

The designer hopes that this will create a “less clinical and super austere” look for the range. “When you go to a restaurant, and you see the transparent bottle next to drinks, it’s a constant reminder that you have to be really careful – which is good, but also drives anxiety,” Hubert adds.

Hubert says that the branding was much more neutral throughout the development process, but that the brighter tones were added to make it more identifiable, especially compared to similar lifestyle brands such as Aesop.

The hope is that the identity – which has “warmer, softer and opaque” details and tactile flourishes – “moves your state of mind to another place”, he says. While he says that there’s no target demographic in terms of age or gender, it’s tailored to a “nomadic lifestyle” and city dwellers.

While the brand has been inspired by the events of the previous year, he says that NGA is set to expand in the future with further editions of products.

“Sculpted” design details

For the product design, Hubert says that accessibility and durability were the driving ambitions. While the team wanted to avoid single-use plastic, the material is still used for the range.

“Plastic is a great material when used well,” he says, adding that it works well for a lightweight product that will be carried around and also contains medical supplies which can degrade other materials.

The product line features softly rounded and ergonomic forms, which have been treated with a matte texture finish. The logo has been “sculpted into” the product, Hubert says, “like pushing your thumb into a piece of ceramic”. “Details like that can elevate a commodity material like plastic,” he adds.

The face mask was inspired by the athleisure sector, Hubert says, and involved months of prototyping. The result is washable and renewable mask with adjustable loops, which are available in different colours.

The outermost layer is made from a lightweight knitted fabric, while the middle layer is a suede fabric. The design reflects the curvature of a face so that it’s a more comfortable fit, according to Hubert.

The replaceable filter is a PM2.5 model that slips into an internal pocket. The studio says that the mask can reduce total airborne particulates by as much as 90%. When not in use, it folds flat and can be stores in a travel pouch which aims to minimise contamination.

“So many masks that I’ve worn, you end with marks on your face or spots around your cheek,” Hubert says. “I was really keen to make sure it felt close to the face – you can basically trace your face with it.”

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