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We Are a DESIGN Studio, part I

June 4, 2018

Due to our many activities in the sustainability and circular economy sectors around helping companies future-proof their brands by helping them design away waste, people sometimes lose sight of Butterflies & Hurricanes' core activity: We are a design studio. We design, design, design, design. Everything else we do grows out of that.

 

 

This month we will present in-depth looks at some of the visual designing we have done recently, the design process and thinking involved in each, and how our company culture contributes to our dynamic designs, and how they can work for our clients’.

 

Chapter 1:  Our New Video.

 

After two years of soul-searching that led us to discover our higher purpose as a company, there were many changes to be made. We had to relaunch B&H on our new direction, and this required a lot of new visual communication.  

 

This post is about our process of creating a new video spot, the design decisions that went into it, and how our company culture shaped it.

 

The process began with the text of the video, which itself was the product of over a year of internal study, self-reflection and research: 

 

For us it is simple. We are guided by our values. We serve a higher purpose in all we do. We help transform brands from being a part of the problem into being a part of the solution, into brands that are in harmony with nature, that respect all people of all genders and cultures, and all life on the planet. Compassion for all is our guide. Design and empathy are our tools. We want to help you make the world better for everyone. If you share similar values, and do not want to compromise, we will be happy to be your companion.

 

The video had to visually represent our values and our design philosophy: it needed to be lively, vivid, playful, fun, intuitive, expressive and match our often off-the-wall, out-of-the-box style. We wanted the process to be a team effort and open to serendipity. It needed to display our packaging design work, and invite repeat watching. 

 Butterflies & Hurricanes' statement of purpose.

 

As a studio striving to incorporate the principles of a Teal Organization, we asked all of our designers to propose ideas for the video. One of our sharp young designers, Olena Ivanchenko, from Ukraine, proposed stop-motion animation as a way to keep the video moving, expressive and present a lot of content in a short time, and represent our undigital aesthetic; she also felt it would fit in with the popular trend of DIY and doing things in-house. Her belief in our Higher Purpose, and her enthusiasm for the project, motivated the other designers. So we let her take the lead, choose her team and get to work. The personal responsibility she took in the project energised the entire studio.

 

Left to right: Olena Ivanchenko, Anna Vančurová, Marketa Jurinova, Judit Tompka, Lenka Pavlíková, Stanislav Mihal, Michaela Thomas.

 

The team’s first step was to give the text line breaks like poetry, and divide them into scenes.

 

For us it is simple. 

We are guided by our values. 

We serve a higher purpose 

in all we do. 

 

We help transform brands

From being a part of the problem

Into being part of the solution.

 

Olena’s team had complete control over the content and allowed visual ideas to run free. They used numerous methods for visualising each scene, some fairly literal, others more lateral. They often referred to our B&H manifesto (a post on this is coming soon!) as they made decisions and narrowed down the list of ideas.  

 

 

The amazing thing about having a higher purpose, is that it makes decisions easier.  Decisions that once seem impossibly complex seem to magically simplify when viewed through the focusing lens of a higher purpose. Many of these decisions were made during the story-boarding process.

 

 

Visual Associations

 

The visual poetry was important, and a lot of thought and meditation went into it. For example, the first line contained the phrase “it is simple”, which suggested a minimalist approach. Illuminating light to create shadow letters on a white background to suggest how natural and powerful simplicity can be, and the clarity of our intentions.  

 

 

The second scene was about being guided by our purpose, which suggested a compass for finding our way through the shifting landscape of the 21st Century marketplace. 

 

 

For higher purpose the idea of helium balloons rising up. 

 

 

In the phrase “in all we do” the “DO” is a physical collage of many of our recent packaging designs.  

 

Ideas from the circular economy, such as upcycling, played a part in the designs. One example is the lamps made from upcycled wine bottles.

 

 

We used the tops of the bottles that had played a role in our designs for Tierra Verde.

 

 

They even included our studio dog, Happy.

 

 

Our Creative Culture

 

The execution of these ideas required design thinking, teamwork and problem solving far beyond the visual elements.

 

 

The creative culture at B&H—that allows play, experimentation, views failure as success and group thought without conflict—played an important role in solving moment-to-moment design problems and the many technical problems that presented themselves. 

 

 

One example of this was when the letter balloons for “PURPOSE” were too heavy for the helium to lift, so the team designed a complex system of wires to lift the balloons.

 

Our culture of collaboration made solving these many problems a very fun process and the cohesion of Olena’s team was key.

 

We shot the video in-house, literally in our office.  Everyone, from office managers to DTP people were involved in some way.

 

 

This not only lent authenticity, but it allowed a lot of serendipitous insights, as the many points-of-view of designers walking around the project were free to suggest tweaks and additions or subtractions. 

 

 

The culture of freedom and experimentation, as well as our belief that designers need to be free to fearlessly fail, all contributed to the energy and creativity of the project.

 

It was truly a team effort, brought all of our people closer together and built new creative relationships that have continued to serve us well in all our design endeavours.

 

Michaela Thomas is the owner and design director of Butterflies & Hurricanes. She is married, has three children and a BIG dog.

 

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