M.Giesser, Visual identity for New Volumes

Published: 22 Oct 2018
Category: Interview
M.Giesser, Visual identity for New Volumes
M.Giesser is a communication design studio based in Melbourne by Mike Giesser (MG). He’ve been working for the last 18 years across Canada, The Netherlands and Australia, most recently as the design director of Studio Round. We have asked about his work for New Volumes.
NE:
Can you tell us about New Volumes?
MG:

New Volumes is a collection–based range of furniture and homewares from Artedomus. The aim / idea behind each collection is to push the boundaries of what can be done using a single material. Collection 01 was made using Elba, a type of stone from Greece that looks like marble, but technically it's a dolomite, which is a stronger, more durable material.

Collection 01 features designs by established and up-and-coming Australian designers – Ross Gardam, Nick Rennie, Dale Hardiman, Marsha Golemac, Thomas Coward, Sarah King, Tom Skeehan and Emma Elizabeth but future collections will open the door to international designers.

New Volumes
New Volumes
NE:
When and how did you start a working relationship with New Volumes?
MG:
I started work on the project last November (2017) and we launched everything in June (2018). The creative director Thomas Coward got in touch with me via Instagram. We chatted a little bit, found out we had quite a few friends, colleagues and clients in common so it progressed from there pretty quickly and felt like a great match from the get-go. It's exactly the type of project I had been waiting for.
New Volumes
I wanted to make this a key part of our overarching brand idea — “A Story Yet to be Written”
NE:
What is the concept and brand strategy behind the visual identity?
MG:

We spent November and December working through the brand strategy, which, in some ways was pretty straightforward. Given that there’s virtually nobody doing anything similar in Australia, there was a huge amount of room to do something interesting without much concern about what others in the industry were doing. But, there were a few things that made it a slightly trickier proposition than normal. At that stage we didn’t have a name for the brand and the only thing locked in was the Collection 01 material and initial design development. The main consideration we had to wrangle with was this unknown around what future collections would be, and not wanting a name that was too related to a specific material like stone (which is primarily what Artedomus are suppliers of) given Collection 02 could be all made of glass, or timber, etc. It probably wouldn't be, but, we simply didn't / don't know.

What I ended up coming to was the fact that we had to embrace this unknown, and rather than try and hide this aspect I wanted to make this a key part of our overarching brand idea — “A Story Yet to be Written”. While it sounds completely wanky, what it did was allow us to create a framework around the notion of storytelling and focus on the few constants. We knew there would always be at least 3 categories of stories within each and every new collection; 1. Material / Origin, 2. Artisans / Makers and 3. Collection Designers. It also started to plant the seeds around naming the brand. In the initial strategy document I had included “Volume” as way to explain how the brand idea could work with naming and basically it stuck with everyone. Unfortunately we couldn’t trademark it so we spent a few weeks over the Christmas break exploring related names, eventually finding that just by adding “New” to the name, we could trademark it.

From there, everything sort of fell into place. We made a book instead of a brochure. The product names supplied by the designers were all derived from stories that meant something to them, and of course related to formal qualities of the pieces. While the visual identity has elements of this idea, attempting to find a marriage between aesthetics and academia, it’s moreso a response to the brand personality we developed. The strong use of colour is something specific to each collection, so the Yves Klein–esque blue, chosen to contrast with the Elba in Collection 01 will be replaced when we start work on Collection 02.

New Volumes
New Volumes
NE:
The project has various disciplines like design, photography, and website. How did you work on them?
MG:

The creative director Thomas assembled the team of myself (brand strategy, visual identity and design) with Sean Fennessy (photography & video) and Natalie Turnbull (styling) being brought on board in early 2018 to head overseas and document the products (as the prototypes were being finalised) the quarry and the factory. I had been wanting to work with Sean for a couple years so it was amazing that the client brought us together. He's exactly who you'd want to shoot the quarry and the people. While he doesn't have heaps of product experience, I think he did a fantastic job making due with a makeshift studio setup in the factory. Nat is young but has a huge amount of experience and brings with her equal measures of talent and enthusiasm.

I couldn’t go due to workload, but we had a few meetings and kept in contact while they spent about a week in Greece, taking all the amazing images found throughout the project collateral. The website was developed by Gary Venter, who has worked with Artedomus for years. The copy was written by Matthew Hurst, who I’d worked with before and has a real unique mix of experience which for me was important, design-writing can be pretty dry.

Generally the way I work is to try and be at the centre of all these components, making sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing, ensuring everything is “on-brand” and delivered on time. When you’re a one-man band you have no choice but to be creative director, design director, senior designer, project and production manager. It was certainly an intense period in the studio though. I had 2 other projects of the same scale running in parallel, alongside a pile of smaller projects so I brought in some help and had another designer (Phoebe Dann) working with me for a month to get through it all.

New Volumes
NE:
What typefaces used for the visual identity? Also why did you choose them?
MG:
A slightly modified version of Forma Nuova by Tankboys is the primary typeface used alongside Academica by Stormtype. I had been waiting for Forma to come out for ages and it was finally released when I started the identity development, which I took as a bit of sign from the universe. Like I’d imagine most designers do, I always start every project by simply setting the name in a selection of appropriate typefaces (never more than 6!) and from there, generally the letterforms speak to me. Often it comes down to which typeface has something inherently unique given the characters I'm working with. Forma has beautiful proportions, a great set of alternates and it just worked effortlessly in a range of wordmark executions. Academica was brought in to add that, well, academic / literary vibe and give the brand something a bit classic.
All images © M.Giesser