Branding Architects and Kissing Giraffes

10.01.20

Kenya believe we were in Nairobi? We barely remember the busy blur that was 2019, but taking a lengthy Christmas break helped to clear our heads. In-between the fishing trips, beer work and design events I really did fit in a trip to Kenya. And yes, I really did kiss that giraffe.

That giraffe.

How did I find myself here? At the end of 2019, we crafted a brand identity for Nairobi-based architecture firm BuildX Studio (formerly Orkidstudio). We also designed a new identity for their sister organisation Buildher. They’re a social enterprise that empowers Kenyan women by providing them with accredited construction skills.

Before starting the project, we ran a series of workshops to build a foundation for the brand. We also wanted to identify how these two brands would work alongside one another. BuildX and Buildher are connected, but working out how that connection works visually was a complex design challenge.

Alongside the BuildX and Buildher teams, O Street recognise the importance of getting ‘stuck in’ with a new client. To successfully brand an organisation, it’s vital to get a feel for the people behind the company and the projects they are working on. So at the end of September, we chose a designer to go to Kenya. And just like that, I was working out of Nairobi during the week and safariing on the weekend!

Evidence of me perfecting the art of snapping photos from a moving vehicle.

Of course, as I voyaged, I continued the O Street tradition of #otypesafari—hunting for typographic goodness. I was a kid in a candy shop upon discovering that nearly all of the signage in Nairobi is still hand-painted. It seems that skilled labour is more affordable than plastic vinyl alternatives. Casual signwriter ‘shops’ adorn the highways advertising their services. The result is a characterful array of shop fronts, signs and Matatus (wildly driven and decorated minibuses that service as taxis across the city).

Yes, that is a spoiler on the back of a bus.

The trip was a whirlwind experience and being fully immersed in the culture of both brands was the perfect way to kick off the project. It was also fun to join the ranks of O remote workers for a week. With a time difference of just plus two hours, it was surprisingly easy to keep up with the team. Continuing ongoing projects was a breeze. At the same time, I could recap the workshops I had run that morning, whilst the UK team were still getting their morning coffee!

Here’s to 2020, when we’ll finally figure out how to make conference calls without the deafening sound of Neil making tea in the background.

—Tessa

Saltwater, sushi and broken necks (or, seven steps to a stellar fishing trip)

05.09.18

The O Street way—besides ‘tea at 3’ and ‘put that scalpel down before you hurt yourself’—can perhaps best be summarised by our insistency on piling into a fishing boat to slay a handful of helpless Scottish mackerel every year. This year’s fishing trip on Loch Fyne was a belter. Here’s seven steps to a successful fishing trip.

Step one is piling into your Soviet tank. Don’t forget to gas it up.

Step two is the reel work. Get on the water and bring in some fish.

Step three is soaking in some landscapes—when you’re right in the middle of the best Scotland has to offer, you’ll want to look around. This year we saw castles, rugged hills, and the seaside abode where George Orwell wrote 1984.

Step four is getting your hands dirty by cleaning your fish. If you want that tasty meat, you’ve got to break some necks and rip out some guts. Is it worth it? Yeah. That’s the circle of sushi life.

Step five is remembering that you’re really dang cute and smiling for the camera.

Step six is finding adventure in everything you do (and seeing who can strike the best Lord of the Rings pose). We’re only here for a short while. Try to enjoy it.

Step seven? Drink too much saki and flail your way through Flaming Lips covers (accordion required).

See ya next year, fish.

Trump Scrabble

11.07.18

All you need to protest Donald Trump is, well, Donald Trump. It goes for his character as well as his name. Download the kit here.

trumpun O Street against Trump

So we drew DONALD TRUMP! in a typeface inspired by old-school civil rights signs and uploaded it here for you to download. If your Sharpies have gone dry just keep these files on hand and print, cut, protest.

O Street against Trumptrumpun2O Street against Trump O Street against Trump O Street against Trump

We’ll also make requests of any digital posters, so hit us up with your best Trump scrabble job and we’ll send it to you!

Disclaimer: this post was written by a natural-born American citizen. Please post any complaints here.

America, Give Us A De-Sign

26.06.18

When it comes to graphic design, we can be a bunch of nostalgic Americophiles. Our Jonny recently visited the great US-of-A and soaked up a load of Americana, and since most of it was bolted down and his 3rd suitcase was reserved for purchases from Goodwill, he only made it back with photos.

 

Neon-and-on-and-on.

In the States, neon signs seem to be everywhere. I can’t get enough of the twisty glass charms. Driving around post-dusk became increasingly dangerous the more enamoured I became, but thankfully we made it back in one piece.

 

Landscape portraits.

Man-made signs can seem like visual pollution when erected in areas known for their natural beauty. That said, they aren’t going away anytime soon, and I’ll be darned if I don’t find them enjoyable. Especially the duck-billed platybear.

 

Sk8r allig8r.

Travelling to the skateboarding mecca of the world made this overgrown boy-man very excited. Companies all over SoCal are inspired by graphics rooted in skate and surf culture, so a wonderful time was had soaking my eyes in low-brow stickers and vintage deck graphics.

 

Chunkography.

America is a playground for those with stranger typographic sensibilities. Weird type appears all over the place, so as someone who fell in love with Cooper before it was cool, I was happy as Larry.

Obviously this is but a fraction of what the Land of the Free has to offer. However, as far as graphic safari spots go, it’s one of the more intriguing places to visit. If you’re Stateside, drop a note to Josh in the Denver O ST studio and you can share some beers that we bought because of the labels.

—Jonny

The Two Jonnys

22.01.18

AAI—Adopt An Intern / All About Incentives

 

Jonny N: Hello again, it’s nice to be with you, isn’t it Jonny?

Jonny J: Yes, it is, and in a packed programme tonight, we shall be talking to two graphic designers and asking ‘do your fonts really come from Monaco and Geneva?’

Jonny N: And ‘can the use of bad kerning ever be justified?’ So Jonny, you first came to see us almost a year ago, and I said to you ‘I really like the cut of your jib and I’d like to bring you in to work on a project with us.’

Jonny J: That’s right Jonny, but you were a bit rushed off your feet with one thing and another and because money is always tight in a small agency, you were unable to organise anything with me.

Jonny N: Indeed… and I also have a memory like a sieve.

Jonny J: Mmm–hmm, a bit rubbish, then?

Jonny N: Well… I, er…

Jonny J: So you must’ve been pleasantly surprised when the nice man from ‘Adopt An Intern’ got in touch to say that they would fund somebody for six weeks, giving you the chance to run the rule over them with a possible view to a full-time position?

Jonny N: I was delighted, Jonny, to say the very least. The signup and acceptance process was really straightforward and in the time it took to say ‘can’t you just turn him the other way round in Photoshop?’, we had everything done and dusted and you were in the studio, working on the old iMac next to the toilet!

Jonny J: (forces weak laugh) Ha-ha, yes. It was great…

Jonny N: Did you think it might lead to a full-time job or were you put off by the amount of foul language you heard in the studio.

Jonny J: No, I kinda hoped there would be an opening if I knuckled down and produced the goods, plus I wore earplugs most of the time, so the swearing wasn’t really an issue.

Jonny N: Ah, I couldn’t fathom why my constant requests for you to put the kettle on were met with complete inaction.

Jonny J: Oh yeah, I did wonder what it was you were saying to me!

Jonny N: Anyway, here we are… It’s all worked out jolly well, hasn’t it?

Jonny J: Yes, it has.

Jonny N: And you are now a much-valued member of the family. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of a cup of tea then?

Jonny J: Um…

Jonny N: Well that’s all we have time for this week. Next week we’ll talk to a typographer who suffered an Arial attack and can’t ‘face’ it anymore.

Jonny J: And we’ve just been told the police are desperately seeking an art director who steals the end of design blog posts. He is described as tall and balding with a very big…

Jonny N: That’s all we’ve got time for this evening, so it’s goodnight from me…

Jonny J: And it’s goodnight from him.

Both: Goodnight!

– – – – –

Thanks, of course to The Two Ronnies and thanks to Tim Street at AAI. Below is some of the work that Jonny has produced with O Street in the last couple of months.