We're talking redesigns — the good and the boring, and what I hope we see more of in the years ahead
Currently, I’m awkwardly smashed into a seat on a plane from Barcelona bound for New York. At 6’ 2”, all plane rides are kind of painful. Sardines stuck in a tin. And the iPad keyboard that I’m using has been reduced to that of a children’s typewriter. Picture a large buffoon, three sparkling wines deep, click-clacking out misspellings one after another because his face is inches away from a screen.
I’m headed to Los Angeles to see friends and family for a couple of weeks. It feels funny going back to LA so quickly, though I feel fortunate to see the folks I love again. I’ll be spending the first half of my time on the west side in Venice. It’s such a funny area to visit though there’s so many great restaurants and some decent places to shop. The second half I’m crashing at a friend’s place in Highland Park. So overall, I get to enjoy a broad swath of the city, and I’m stoked to partake in delicious tacos and some funky wine along the way. Please send good vibes so that I don’t end up with a horrible case of jet lag!
This week, I’m writing a lot about rebrands. It seems that we can’t leave well enough alone, and so, I’ll be reviewing this week of fresh takes, exciting interpretations, and overall, some very interesting interpretations of some modern classics.
Kicking off this week’s items with a hot take… we really need Peter Saville to stop with the brand redesigns. Things started with the rebrand of Burberry, putting in place a mundane word mark and a slightly more interesting monogram. Then there was the Aston Martin redesign which I wrote about a little while ago. Now, he’s completed a hat trick of banality with a redesign of Salvatore Ferragamo into simply, Ferragamo. None of these redesigns are offensive by any means, I’m mostly irritated by the continued descent into same-sameness across all of these rebrands (Saville’s and others, Hedi Slimane is also guilty here) as well as the painful marketing language that has to work so very hard to make these seem even barely deep. A few of my faves from some of Saville’s rebrands that I mentioned above:
"Confident and functional, but with something a little kinky about it"
"Subtle but necessary"
"As we approach an exciting moment of product evolution, the design of the new wings was no different. Every millimetre of each line – of each shape within the new wings, are drawn forward from the depths of our 109-year Aston Martin creative wellspring."
"Then there is the craft that is quintessentially Ferragamo, which is condensed in the idea of an inscription set in stone."
Absolutely hysterical. These statements ring loudly of British self-importance, that thankfully Saville was here to deign his creative abilities to these poor souls. These are storied companies still doing great work, and yet these logo and marks have been stripped to the bone, left to bleach in the sun. All the character and charm has been removed and we’re left with… a “brand” I see plenty of interesting work coming from studios like Koto or Collins. Maybe this is only a luxury brand problem? Or perhaps even a leadership issue? Regardless, I hope we see the pendulum swing back toward the weird and wild (in the spirit of Loewe or Gucci) when it comes to these matters.
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To highlight a stronger idea of a redesign that brings new meaning or new character to an identity, I’ll point you to the new look and feel of RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design, expertly crafted by Gretel. It’s honestly hard to know where to begin with this since the work was so thorough and all-encompassing.
I guess I’d highlight the work done by former RISD alum Ryan Bugden, who redrew the RISD seal and created two new typefaces that are employed across the design system. The new seal feels fresh and new, tightened up in the right places, though done in a way that honestly, non-designers will never know the difference (I mean this in a good way). The typefaces are… on another level. The amount of flexibility he’s built in is seriously impressive and gives such a wide range of expression. At first I thought, “is this too many options?” haha… but when I saw how Gretel used them in them in the overall system you realize they were put to very good use (a good example of this above).
In the whole, this feels like an institution for our modern times. There’s an ease to it all, like this is what it should have looked like all along, like it’s not trying to hard. It’s fresh without trying to be too edgy or trendy. I think these are very hard elements to capture, especially in a project at this scale.
One more I had to share this week is this new typeface for Braun. The project was a collaboration between iconwerk, Ludwig Übele and Nina Sagra, prof. Oliver Grabes and Renke Thye of the Braun design studio. Together, they replaced Helvetica Neue with Braun Linear, a typeface that takes it’s design cues from the very principles of Braun’s design, such as the racetrack-shape, helping to form the very shapes of the letters.
In this case, this direction is completely appropriate for a brand like Braun with it’s German design roots. The typeface feels so calm to me, I love how all the letters have this sense of grace and fluidity to them. It might also help that the iconwerk site is so incredibly designed (image above is a small piece) it really helps communicate the overall presentation of the system.
🐜 Bugging Out— I was surprised to learn that Salvador Dali had designed a scarf that featured ants on it for Elsa Schiaparelli. This is cool because Daniel Roseberry, designer of Schiaparelli, has been including these beautiful sequined ants into his pieces since his first collection in 2019, as well as the current one. What a lovely homage to an iconic collab.
🪙 Another Level — Samuel Ross continues to bring some incredible looks to his own work with A-COLD-WALL as wall as his collaborations. Recent photos of his collaboration with Converse came out and it looks otherworldly.
⌘ New Identity — Really loving the work of Renald Louissant, a designer and illustrator based in NYC. Lots of great explorations, all sorts of different styles in his design and illustrations. One to keep an eye on.
🚫 Fashion Gimmick — I’m very here for Rachel Tashjian’s takedown in Harpers Bazaar calling out the Bella Hadid spray-on dress. This sentence is pure fucking brilliance:
The show notes said that the collection was dedicated “to all the women in the world.” Really? In that case, to me, the dress is a statement about how often women are gently manipulating themselves to accommodate the dumb ideas of men.
The Trend Report™ by my partner, Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick, is a sharp and insightful look at all the things going on in the world, arriving every Sunday to your inbox. Highly recommended, obviously.