wes anderson bar luce

Have you heard about Wes Anderson’s new coffee shop “Bar Luce” which opened earlier this month in Milan?

The American filmmaker has designed a café fashioned in the same quirky and idiosyncratic style as his movies. Anderson himself has described the bar as the perfect place to write a movie, which makes total sense, since the bar appears to be designed at a level that would rival The Grand Budapest Hotel.

wes anderson bar luce

But apart from the café being designed by the famous director, this concept illustrates how consumers flock to authentic and special products and services that reflect their own style and personality. As the world becomes more globalised, we are over-saturated with choice and it seems like we are increasingly finding authentic, creative and personalised experiences especially valuable.

With Wes Anderson’s quirky coffee café in mind, here are six coffee trends that tap into this sense of a personalised experience.

1. Back to Basics

It’s all about taste. Say goodbye to mass market coffee cocktails and flavour additives – as consumers become more knowledgeable about coffee origins and flavours, they want to experience the original taste of coffee: no sugar, no milk, just black.

This kind of coffee connoisseurship involves awareness of country origins, production processes and specific brewing methods including pour over, cafetiere, chemex, aeropress and cold press.

back to basics coffee

back to basics coffee

2. Science vs. Humanity

As consumers discover more about coffee and brewing methods, they have an increased desire to learn about the science behind brewing. This has led to an array of coffee fairs and events from the London Coffee Festival to individual coffee brewing master classes like the ones held at Workshop Coffee in London.

london coffee festival

coffee workshop

3. Signature Roasts

Smaller coffee shops are finding new ways to brand their coffee, emphasising the distinctive flavour of the beans. Achieved through unique roasting styles, these singular blends are memorable and recognisable. The focus is in creating original flavours that appeal to the consumer’s palates rather than their eyes.

signature roastssignature roasts

4. Breakfast Piccolo

Going for brunch or breakfast has become a prominent weekend activity amongst millenials and it’s taken hold in many major cities. This initially led to a surge in the popularity of the Flat White and has now given rise to its smaller cousin, the Piccolo.

The Piccolo, commonly known as “low tide latte”, is made with a single espresso shot in a Macchiatto glass, which is then filled with steamed milk. It’s stronger and smaller than a latte – perfect for the coffee drinker who needs a coffee hit without getting too full – leaving space for breakfast.

brunch piccolo

5. Ethicool

Smaller coffee houses often have a smaller supply chain and individual relationships with the farmers that supply their beans. They are able to use this network to their advantage and further incorporate this down-to-earth mentality to their communication and design. This unique ethicool style flips ethical codes on their head in a way that mass market coffee companies aren’t able to do.


6. Coffee House Cool

Non-chain cafés need to give consumers a reason to spend £2.50 or more on a cup of coffee, rather than going to their local (probably cheaper) chain. To offer more to their customers, many have invested in creating a cool, stylised atmosphere – often founded on quite niche aesthetics – engaging consumers with inspired interior design and a unique branding and packaging style.

coffee house cool

coffee house cool

Overall, these trends show a main tendency towards cultivating an awareness and appreciation of coffee culture, localised and original styling, and creating memorable experiences. Wes Anderson’s café is a perfect example of how consumers are eager to have more aspects of their lives a reflection of their identity and personal ethos – especially when it comes to such a particular element of daily life like coffee.

dove yes we are beach body ready

There has been an incredible wave of backlash against the controversial Protein World advert that has spread like wildfire in the London Underground. The ad features a perfectly-toned, perfectly-bronzed, perfectly-photoshopped model standing in a tiny bikini alongside the words ‘Are you beach body ready?’ Almost immediately the ad was perceived by many groups to be offensive, irresponsible and harmful, and the ad was met with vandalism, defacement, twitter rants, and petitions to have it taken down.

Protein World has taken an interesting stand and has gone on quite the sharp counter-attack to the hate, standing firm in their stance of ‘self-improvement,’ though from their Twitter replies, it sounds a little more like fat-shaming. Arjun Seth, Chief Executive of Protein World, has even argued that people campaigning against the ad are ‘terrorists, irrational, and extremist.’

protein world dove

In a new twist, someone has cleverly fired back at Protein World by creating their own version of this ad using the logo from Dove, a leading beauty brand that has long been campaigning for ‘real beauty.’ The spoof ad features three curvy, smiling, real women proudly asserting ‘Yes. We are beach body ready.’

After being made aware of the image, a Dove representative said, “the ad was not created by Dove, but we do believe that every woman is beach body ready!” Dove has long been a champion for widening the definition of beauty and whoever created the new poster captured the essence of Dove’s mission: every body is ideal, every body is ready.

This mystery creator knew how Dove draws on an emotional connection with their consumers in their advertising and design and though the image may not have been created by Dove, it completely fooled us as the message is entirely in touch with the core of their brand identity.

protein world last minute

More spoof ads have popped up in the last few days, including one from Lastminute.com and one from Carlsberg which not only appeared in social media, but also in digital billboards on the London Underground next to the Protein World ad.

protein world carlsberg beer body ready

Li Lihong Vigour China mcdonalds

This week in Shanghai our Founder and CEO Andrew Eyles had the honour of meeting artist Li Lihong at his solo exhibition ‘Vigour-China’ at the Art Labor Gallery.

Li Lihong Vigour China apple

Lihong’s work connects the global, contemporary experience with practised, cultural tradition and re-examines the bridge between the East and West. By fusing the symbols of Nike, McDonald’s, Apple and Disney with traditional Chinese patterns, he creates a new and reflective visual experience. This mash-up goes beyond being clever and transcends into an elegant beauty all into itself, encapsulating Lihong’s philosophy that “Modernism and Post-Modernism is not the enemy of tradition, but rather is a renewed expression of tradition.”

Li Lihong Vigour China mickey

The detailed craftsmanship and exquisite use of ceramic and porcelain in combination with these modern, global brands succeeds in revealing a perspective that is both critical and accepting of the dual and complex world that we live in. Lihong acknowledges the presence of these iconic brands and their influence in his life while still expressing what he calls “the vigorous nature of contemporary China.”

Li Lihong Vigour China

The Vigour-China exhibit will be displayed at the Art Labor Gallery in Shanghai until 31st May 2015.

Li Lihong Vigour China absolut

Li Lihong Vigour China Nike

Li Lihong Vigour China mtv

Li Lihong Vigour China coca cola

Spotify has revolutionised and innovated how people access, consume and listen to music since its creation 7 years ago. It allows its users (of which there are upwards of 6 million) to go on musical journeys. Aside from the ability to create personal playlists, users can discover new music – music that they might not usually have access too or know where to look.


With a previous brand identity that left little to be desired – a simple black, white and green palette with a bubble icon of a sound wave – Spotify had the appearance of a tech company, which is far removed from the entertainment world where it actually wants to belong. As the branding is limited, one would assume that it followed the legendary conviction of the industry “it’s about the music”.

The music streaming business is a crowded place to be. Many would-be competitors of the past have struggled, failed and become obsolete. Spotify had to step it up to attract new customers and keep the old ones coming back for more.


The brand has unveiled a colourful new look. This new image connects the brand to its core purpose and celebrates music of the past, present and future. Spotify has taken the decisive step to create a brand that connects with its core advocates, the millenials. Millenials are addicted to image. They are drawn to brands that look good and as a result make them look good. This new generation of music listeners need their music to look as good as they sound. The colourful redesign now allows the brand to communicate with their core audience in a variety of different ways and has reignited an energy that signifies the brand is here to stay.


Branding is a way of solidifying influence in our future and with this branding, Spotify stays relevant and secures a place in our culture. Spotify is one of those tools that you don’t think you need but once you create an account, it becomes one thing you realise you can’t live without. Long live Spotify!

Before the times of digitalised fonts, literature was produced using the Johannes Gutenberg method of movable type. The business of printing and binding was considered highly creative, requiring strength in craftsmanship and skill. T.J. Cobden-Sanderson was a man who understood the necessity of purity and authenticity in creating beautiful work. He designed Doves Type accordingly—a clear, simple text with the occasional careful flourish, inspired by Nicolas Jenson’s Roman type. He was deliberate when choosing the texts that would be printed in Doves Type as he felt his type would give the words physical beauty and that the words, all strung together, had to carry their own musicality off the page. A perfect creation of symmetrical brilliance.


Emory Walker shared his partner’s sentiments on design and creativity. From 1901 to 1908, the pair produced some of the greatest treasures of printed text, including the five-volume English Bible. Their partnership turned sour when the effects of the Industrial Revolution were beginning to be realised. When their business dissolved, there was disagreement as to what would happen with the text. Walker wanted Doves Type to be released for commercial use, but Cobden-Sanderson objected intensely and took deep offense.


Although frustrated with Walker, Cobden-Sanderson’s true resentment resided in the technological changes that were transforming the printing industry. He felt the Industrial Revolution had put an expiration date on his creative achievements and thus reacted by executing a calculated destruction of his own work. Cobden-Sanderson began throwing the tiny copper bits off Hammersmith Bridge. He acted discreetly, under the cloak of night aware of the fact that his actions were illegal. Before long, the entire collection of Dove Type was at the bottom of the River Thames.

Nearly a century later, some of the copper pieces have been recovered thanks to the effort and financial backing of Robert Green, a designer and Dove Type enthusiast. After studying the type for years, he wondered if any of it could be resurrected from the river. His dedication to the cause paid off in November of 2014 when some of the copper pieces were recovered.


The return of the beautiful type invites questions concerning the preservation of creative design. Does mass production always result in the devaluation of creative work? Has the advancement of technology destroyed an aspect of creative development? Cobden-Sanderson seemed to think so. While his passion may have boarded insanity, his devotion to the craft is one to be admired.

ontological design

Ontological design is constant, simultaneous and inescapable. It is the idea that everything we design and surround ourselves with, influence our future thinking and creations. In other words, it is where design meets consciousness.

This idea shatters the way design is generally thought of—something that adds visual appeal or even less flattering, simple functionality. Ontological design recognizes the correlative relationship present between our constructed environment and our minds. Through this feedback loop, we are able learn and build upon previous design in both a constructive and destructive manner.

There is no way to pause or interrupt this feedback loop because it is fundamental to our makeup. Anne Marie Willis, co-founder of the Eco-Design Foundation in Sydney explains, “we design, that is to say, we deliberate, plan and scheme in ways which prefigure our actions and makings — in turn we are designed by our designing and by that which we have designed.”

This may sound like a page out of a Dr. Seuss storybook, but its pervasiveness is undeniable when analyzing both our daily and ongoing evolution. We learn through active engagement of the pre-existing and design anew based on these observations. Ontological design extends beyond the idea of environmental conditioning because it acknowledges, more pointedly, the role of the designer.

The champions of this philosophy are Brand Heroes, those who deliver beyond. Whether the design answers a call for innovation in the realm of functionality, sustainability, or emotional connectedness, Brand Heroes are cognizant of the implications of their designs. This braver attitude strengthens our forward-moving momentum.

This exciting way of thinking should serve to reignite a passion in the design community. It is a nod to the capability and influence designers hold in shaping our current and future environment. It is also a reminder to be daring, yet graceful in delivering design to a world in need of boundless improvement.

Here is a video explaining what Ontological Design is in more detail.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 12.25.02


It is quite fitting for Maker’s Mark, an iconic American brand, to commemorate the Superbowl, America’s most important sporting event. The wonderfully executed special edition bottle features Maker’s Mark’s signature wax in the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots teams colours.

Superbowl makers mark

Celebrating American sports with a limited edition bottle isn’t a new trick for Marker’s Mark. In fact, if you visit the website you will find a gallery of collectable bottles linked to sports, particularly Kentucky teams, which works to reinforce the brand’s strong ties to its home state. Furthermore, many of these limited editions have an added charitable element, in that they donate a portion of the proceeds to a good cause. For a brand like Maker’s Mark, this strategy on special editions makes perfect sense. It’s a down-to-earth brand, rich with heritage, that succinctly balances quality with value.

Design-wise, however, the limited edition portfolio runs into some snags. There are some stunning, pitch perfect executions, such as the 2003 Ambassador Bottle. True to its Kentucky roots, this special edition features the famed red wax in the shape of a racing horse.

Good Makers mark examples


However, there are others within the portfolio that miss the mark. Look at the 2014 University of Louisville Charity Bottle. While the sentiment behind this limited edition is noble, the design compromises so many equities that the brand becomes unrecognisable. The signature wax seal is there, but it has been changed to black. This would be fine if it was the only equity that was altered, but it’s just the beginning. The craft label that communicates heritage and quality has been replaced with a modern photograph. The ACC logo takes center stage with the Maker’s Mark logo now just a sign-off at the bottom. Of course, the most striking change is that it is now an opaque bottle which hides the warm golden colour of the bourbon.

Makers mark


With no rules governing how equities are treated when creating a limited edition, brands run the risk of a creating a portfolio that not only lack cohesion, but dilutes the brand. Limited editions are an effective way of driving engagement, giving your loyal consumers something special and celebrating brand-relevant events. The designs for special edition must reflect this, but should not be overpowered by it.








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