Barnes & Webb Employ a Creative Solution to Help the Honeybees

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You may have noticed that bees have been popping up here and there and the Fox is Black recently. Why? Quite simply: they’re important, not only to our own well-being but for that of the greater Earth too. Unfortunately in recent years their numbers have been dropping and their environments disrupted. Barnes & Webb of London have come up with a wholly creative solution that attempts to mitigate the issue. Their service offers bees right in your backyard and all the delicious honey that comes with doing so. What grabbed my attention was their detail to design, branding, and the arts, as they cleverly combine the three in order to uplift their service and aid the honeybee’s plight.

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Apes curamus et nos curant (we look after honey bees and they look after us); the tiny insects are integral to the environment but also economies. In the past 60 years, the number of honeybee colonies has fallen drastically from six million to two-and-a-half million present. According to the US Department of agriculture, one mouth in three benefits from honeybee pollination. That’s huge. How huge? As of June, President Obama launched a task force tasked with protecting the bees, investing $50m into research and action to combat the decline.

Environmental responsibility is becoming a popular public affair and more light is being shed on the honeybee issue. It’s businesses like Barnes & Webb that demonstrate, quite optimistically, how we can tackle these topics with a flair of creativity.

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Barnes & Webb install and manage beehives across London, providing raw, local honey and all the pleasures of urban beekeeping without any of the hassle. The concept is more or less as a result of a key insight: you don’t have to have 100 acres to help the honeybee. Every lawn, every yard, and even rooftops can pitch in. When it comes to honeybees, the smallest change can affect the global food supply—so customers can rest assured knowing they’re making a valuable contribution.

The creative approach trickles down into the product itself too. The package design is smart, clean, and minimal, which makes a traditional product feel modern and makes honey and the honeybee stand out on your shelves or kitchen cupboards. Engaging and proactive.

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Aside from the packaging, Barnes & Webb work with local talent to further help their brand stand out and place the honeybee on a pedestal. They’ve collaborated with designer Anthony Burrill to produce a one off print and identity, which the brand uses extensively, from posters to advertising. They’ve also seen commercial work be produced on behalf of Olivia Whitworth, an English architect turned illustrator, who adds charm and personality to the company’s image.

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The fun doesn’t stop at their packaging or advertising—just last week over 30 artists and illustrators created unique artworks that went on display and were auctioned off to fund the company’s not-for-profit campaign activities. Of the talent featured was Burrill, Edward Monaghan, Jean Julilen, Essy May, Adrian Johnson, Robert Hunter, Jody Barton, Stevie Gee, and more.

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Connecting bee lovers and keepers, artists, designers, environmentalists, and the wider public, Barnes & Webb use these events to ultimately raise awareness on the issues faced by the honeybee and other important pollinators. They believe in “combining the creativity, knowledge and passion of individuals and organizations to create initiatives that benefit the bees and our environment. A powerful network for positive change.”

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While it’s often easy to get cynical when it comes to environmental affairs, Barnes & Webb’s approach is refreshingly optimistic. Their service demonstrates that the issue can be aided with creativity and design.

Whether we like it or not we have a duty towards the planet, as recent years have seen us leave a negative impact. What many forget is that we therefore have the power to incur the inverse and work towards responsibly inhabiting what we’ve come to know as home. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right? I believe Barnes & Webb are on the forefront of this positive change, their approach will serve to hopefully inspire others.

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The aforementioned collaboration and event was the first of many that the Barnes & Webb has planned. Follow the brand’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for updates on forthcoming events.

Nick Partyka

September 24, 2014 / By

MUJI Lulls You to Sleep With Its Minimalistic New App

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MUJI, Japan’s super successful minimalistic “brandless-brand” has recently released a new app, MUJI to Sleep. It boasts a series of natural sounds to help induce a sound slumber, anytime, anywhere. The app is aesthetically awesome, free, boasts a tight design, and last but certainly not least, aids in perpetuating MUJI’s brand values. Other brands take note: this is how you do digital.

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The beginnings of MUJI date back to the early 1980’s, when it served as a generic supermarket brand. Since then the company has grown into a well-respected global name, encompassing a huge variety of goods, everything from housewares to fashion. “Muji” is short for “Mujirushi Ryohin” or “brandless quality goods.”

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If you’re familiar with MUJI then you can see the irony in this; MUJI’s “brandless” has become quite the well-known brand. In recent years they’ve expanded out of Asia and into European and North American markets, having seduced design-centric crowds, their wares even sold in MoMA. MUJI to Sleep seeks to continue the brand’s successful trend of function meets natural simplicity.

 

In an ever-increasing digital world, it’s hard to keep electronics out of the bed, even when we know we’re not supposed to. But MUJI’s sleep app defies this logic, using the sounds of nature on your smartphone or tablet to make drifting off easier. It’s a very niche app, thus the interface and design is refreshingly simple and straightforward. You swipe through six calming sounds of nature: seaside waves, tweeting birds, kindling fire, a stream, forest, and waterfall.

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Every sound was recorded on-location, in Japan, using head-shaped binaural microphones to closely duplicate the experience of actually being within the setting. This technique creates an audio frequency gap between the left and right ear that syncs with the user’s brainwave cycle to encourage sleep. Each sound can be set to a timer of 30, 60, or 90 minutes.

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This app couldn’t fit any better within the MUJI family. The brand has risen to popularity precisely because of its refined products and tidy stores, which ultimately offer a bastion of calm. MUJI to Sleep reinforces this association with its minimalistic design and simple, yet functional use. The app is clearly a brand-builder, but doubles as a product-seller too.

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Accompanying MUJI to Sleep is a fantastic microsite that demonstrates the app’s use when paired with one of the company’s most popular products, the Well-Fitted Neck Cushion. The app appears to have been created to supplement the cushion’s effectiveness (and that of other other MUJI products too). The two compliment each other so well that you feel like you can’t own one without the other, effectively creating need and consequently moving product off the shelves.

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This isn’t MUJI’s first foray into the digital; the company has successfully released other apps that work congruent to their physical offerings. It’s an effective means of digital advertising and marketing—I don’t feel like I’m being worked over by the brand as they’re offering me functional experiences to enhance my living.

“MUJI to Sleep” is available now for both iOS and Android devices. Sweet dreams and happy snoozing.

Nick Partyka

August 25, 2014 / By

‘The Endangered Song’ with Portugal. The Man is Saving Tigers by Going Extinct

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Can creativity change the world? Advertising agency DDB NY would like to think so, as demonstrated in their new campaign for the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Endangered Song. In an effort to spread awareness of the less than 400 Sumatran Tigers left in the world, the two teamed up with rock band Portugal. The Man to manufacture and record a song. Not just any ol’song, but one created to go extinct, unless digitally reproduced. It’s a wholly clever solution, reminding us of creativity’s importance and influence. I was afforded the opportunity to pick the brains of the two creatives behind it all to find out more. Continue reading this post…

Nick Partyka

May 2, 2014 / By

Stunning Air France Ads are Ready for Take Off

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This week, Air France unveils its new campaign, “Air France, France is in the air.” The French agency behind it all, BETC, has slowly but surely been revealing the campaign with a series of posters. Featuring the amazing photography of Sofia & Mauro, bold design, and palettes to make any color-lover swoon, it’s a strong move in the right direction for the brand, and a reminder that advertising’s not so bad when it’s beautiful.

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Nick Partyka

April 3, 2014 / By

ADC’s ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ Celebrates the Craziness That Comes With Being A Creative

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The Art Directors Club annual Portfolio Night is fast approaching—a “global portfolio and recruitment event” for young advertising creatives (or, in my experience, an evening of industry canoodling and general debauchery). The campaign surrounding this year’s event has aptly been titled “Blood, Sweat and Tears.” A theme any creative can no doubt relate to. 12 typographic executions have been created by 12 different designers, each reflecting a personal interpretation of the aforementioned phrase.

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Nick Partyka

March 5, 2014 / By

The Academy Behind the Oscars Gets a New Identity

Academy-Rebrand-1 With the Oscars around the corner, a new identity for the Academy that’s behind it all couldn’t have come at a better time. While the Academy might be synonymous with the film industry, they seriously lack a visual representation and often get lumped in with their iconic effigy. California based agency, 180LA, set about bringing the Academy from the shadows and literally into the spotlight, introducing a modern identity of pure class. A rebranding that manages to reach for the future without forgoing the decades of history under the Academy’s wings. Continue reading this post…

Nick Partyka

January 13, 2014 / By

New York City Ballet Art Series presents JR

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New year, new New York City Ballet Art Series. Following the success of last year’s offering (featuring FAILE), NYCB has enlisted the talents of renowned artist and self-proclaimed “photograffeur,” JR. An annual offering that aims at introducing a new generation to the entertainment of ballet, the Art Series has established itself as one of the cities’ must-see attractions and offers a new way to experience a night at the ballet. Other than that, why else should you be interested in attending? Every audience member receives a take-away specially created by the artist.

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Nick Partyka

January 8, 2014 / By

NYC Ballet’s New Beginnings is the Most Moving 9/11 Tribute You’ve Ever Seen

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The other week marked September 11th’s twelfth anniversary. A moment in history that will no doubt live on in the minds and hearts of Americans. Yet, I can’t help but get the impression that its legacy is dwindling. Probably for the better, it seems most opt to quietly remember as opposed to making a big deal of it all. As writer Robert Frost famously once said, “in three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” While some may have carried forward, New York City Ballet has not. Or have they? In a poetic homage titled New Beginnings, the company staged and filmed a performance atop 4 World Trade Center. The result is touching. It’s poetic, poignant even. I cannot stress this enough: it’s the perfect 9/11 tribute, harkening Frost’s aforementioned sentiment.

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Nick Partyka

September 26, 2013 / By

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