Design inspiration: the best projects from July

This month we were enamoured with offerings from across the design spectrum, from minimalist signage and intricate book illustrations, to sleek lighting and bold large-scale installations.

Minimalist COVID-19 Signs, by Ellie Pinney

As the UK gradually returns to the workplace, health and safety signage will be more prevalent than ever. Playing with a more low-key approach to communications, freelance graphic designer Ellie Pinney has released a set of minimalist COVID-19 signs.

The posters and wall stickers rely on typography to get their message across. While minimalist, the signs are still playful – hugging is advised against with a light-hearted kerning effect, meanwhile a 20-second handwashing message feels more stream-of-consciousness than scary warning.

By side-stepping any element of fear and danger, Pinney creates signs that tackle the topic in a more comforting and subtle way, where more traditional signs might lean on brash colours and graphics.


Find Frida, illustrated by Laura Callaghan

A Where’s Wally-style book that takes readers through the life of celebrated artist and revolutionary Frida Kahlo. Written by art historian Catherine Ingram and illustrated by Laura Callaghan, Find Frida features 12 scenes from the Mexican artist’s life, including a Day of the Dead celebration and her home and studio shared with Diego Rivera.

Paying homage to Kahlo’s own love of colour and Mexican culture, Callaghan’s illustrations are bold and intricate. And the crowds in which Kahlo is hidden are not just a sea of unknown characters – each scene depicted is filled with the famous faces of photographers, writers and filmmakers that were either inspirations to her, or influenced by her.


“Anti-social” hotel restaurant design, by Absolute

The hospitality industry is among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic and solutions ventured to protect restaurants, workers and patrons have been necessarily varied. One that caught Design Week’s eye was from Cornish graphic and interior design consultancy Absolute. The studio has developed what it calls the “first ever” truly socially distanced restaurant, in a marquee on the grounds of the St Moritz Hotel and Spa in Cornwall.

Part-private dining, part-beach club, part-pop-up, the 16-room dining concept can host a maximum of 96 covers at any one time, with each area serviced by a central corridor for waiting staff and each accessible through a private door.

The interiors have been designed by Absolute with inspiration from the art-deco style of the St Moritz Hotel. This has been mixed with a “Miami colour-pop palette”, which is employed in coastal-striped feature walls and tables, to prove that “safe doesn’t need to mean boring”.


Breadblok Bakery identity, by Charlie Smith Design

When gluten-free bakery Breadblok opened its doors earlier this year, few would have guessed the situation it, and the rest of the world, would find itself in just months later. Needing a brand that could quickly pivot to digital, the Santa Monica-based business enlisted the help of London design studio Charlie Smith Design.

When the team first began work with the brand, there were already some assets in place. To enhance these, the studio introduced a warm colour palette and a range of core lock-ups and product lock-ups.

Beyond this, the team also had to develop Breadblok’s packaging, which needed to adhere to regulations in California banning all plastic packaging. Charlie Smith Design opted for biodegradable paper bags for bread, while salad containers are made from unbleached card. All feature a specially-crafted version of the logo, which can be applied directly to the material without the need for a sticker.


Integralis, by Artemide

The ongoing pandemic has sparked huge interest in how our everyday spaces can be adapted to keep us safe. Earlier this month, Design Week spoke to designers who were redeveloping materials to turn them into “COVID-killers”, using techniques like anti-bacterial prints and silver technology.

This product from Italian lighting designer Artemide takes a slightly different approach, using UV light to kill pathogenic microorganisms, which when left on surfaces can help transmit disease.

Integralis, Artemide says, can be used in several different contexts: in public areas like museums, offices and shops, the light can be programmed to sanitise in step with how many people are present; and in smaller spaces, like lifts and waiting rooms, sanitising can be done intermittently, controlled via an app.


Smart street art, by Studio Number One

Back at the start of the July, crowds rejoiced as pubs tentatively reopened their doors. The resumption of this part of everyday life had designers talking about how our outdoor spaces could change to accommodate social distancing post-lockdown, and this design from Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One for beer brand Stella Artois was a distinctly colourful approach.

The design, first unveiled at outside Truman Brewery in east London uses geometric patterns and bold contrasting colours to signal where revellers can sit or stand at a safe distance from others. The 28x14m installation is an attempt to ensure pubs and bars don’t lose their sense of fun in amongst the fear of the pandemic.

After launching in east London, the designs have since been shared with other pubs and bars across the UK, to be installed by local artists.


Dr Vegan Vitamins identity, by Five by Five

Wanting to cut through the information overload of other vitamin brands, Dr Vegan touts itself as a “clear-cut” alternative for the adult market. International creative studio Five by Five was brought in to brand the line, which is available direct-to-consumer via a subscription service.

While the name suggests it is a brand for vegans, Five by Five emphasises that Dr Vegan is an “all-inclusive” company, open for anyone looking for a natural, ethical vitamin choice. The bold typeface and natural appearance aim to underline this, a direct contrast to competitors that rely on often clinical aesthetics.

As well as brand identity and guidelines, the studio were also tasked with Dr Vegan’s packaging, which intends to further show its commitment to the environment. Packaging is “responsibly sources, biodegradable and recyclable” and comes with a complimentary branded refillable pill tin.

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