Creativity & Innovation · Desk Notes

12 years ago, DK rebranded Seattle’s Northwest Asian Weekly

Cool.

The Seattle community paper, Northwest Asian Weekly, is still using our rebrand all this time later. I’m updating our portfolio here to reflect the highlights of our past work in design, and communications, and so, wanted to post about it here.

 

How we rebranded a 25-year old paper

Everyoneeditors, copyeditors, publisher, designers, other staff, occasionally those passing by, and DK worked together to come up with a fresh update, a new template set, typeface selections… the works.

Concepting took a good effort, but it was important, for us, to get the story first. So we sat. And talked. For several sessions, just setting things up so the real talking could begin. In this way, we could do what all designers love to do when they are writing their own creative brief: be present, listen, and make sure you hear everyone. Goal, for DK, then, was to gather inputs from the full team at NWAW. 

But it started with the whole big metaphysical question, 25 years after you got started, ‘Who are you now?’

A box over the i, which you can see accented in the design for the masthead, was inspired by the answer we found, together, through dialogues at a round table. Which was, ‘A window to the world.’

Will need to find the better resolution files from our redesign process, but I’m terribly disorganized with old old files, as most people are, and it’s fine, but why I bring this up is because I do recall the file I placed onto the CD of files I had delivered when this project ended, which was, ‘Brand Story: A living document.’ A word file, meant to be something that future editors and designers could visit, and reshape, as time moved on and needs changed. These things happen. It’s inevitable. But a good design leaves space for that… leaves room to grow, and change. To me.

 

Writing & Publishing

Since I personally love community journalism, I was hawpy to be part of this project, and lead the effort to shift over to a modern, clean design from the original style.

In 2013, When DK got set up in Cambodia, I began to write for the paper, too. I sent in this column, ‘The Village Report,’ to the NWAW. It was easy to think of the idea, given what DK had gathered about what the aim, vision, story, and idea was for the redesign. ‘Window to the world.’ Made sense. It fit. It worked.

Creativity & Innovation · Desk Notes · Experiments in Expression · Ideas of Curiosity · In Việt Nam

NUK | Designing brand identity in Phnom Penh, 2014

Naming, brand identity design, and showing up to make space—quality space—for the process of people who want to discover something new, together, is what we did for NUK Cafe. This was 2014. DK had just opened up our doors in Phnom Penh for business, and this was our first gig.

Since then, five years’ experience of living and learning here in Phnom Penh has given us a chance to flex our creative and intellectual muscles. We’ve gotten into very different kinds of projects, since moving away from typical brand identity design. Still, I think it’s important to share the jo gurney, and how we got to where we are from where we started. This post is part of a series of updates to our portfolio. Discovery, networking, change, and reinvention has led us through a wide set of experiences.

Journeys that, for better or worse, taught us some important lessons. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a long story.

DK designs NUK. Here’s a detail of NUK specifications for usage, 2014
Brand design for NUK Cafe // DK 2014

DK’s now open again for design commissions. That’s a lot of stuff to anticipate, for DK, but the short story is this. We’ve done things, we’ve been places. We’ve learned. We have more to do. Ready, set. See you soon.

Contact

100 Conversations · A Philosophy of the Moment · Creativity & Innovation · Desk Notes · Found in the Field · The Muse

Brand identity design for Seattle’s nightclub, Baltic Room, 2010

DK designs and sketches a brand identity for a Seattle nightclub, 2010

 

In the 2000s DK got to go to a lot of gigs, since we were based at that time in Capitol Hill, amongst all the buzz and arts and nightlife of this bustling neighborhood in Seattle.

One of my favorite venues was the Baltic RoomIn the 2010s thanks to TH, an architect, DK got to rebrand that nightclub.

 

‘Design is making meaning’

Cool to see that they are still using our design…. 

T., after all, had referred us. She had been one of our first clients. A combination of: a shared aesthetic appreciation of the beauty of chance encounters, plus a common love of jazz (which is after all improvisation in space on the spot), was what led to us meeting T in the first place. ‘I’ve been looking for you,’ T had said. ‘To do the design for my new company. When I break out to do my own company, you’re my designers: I just know.’

‘And that’s how a thing starts, sometimes.’

The Baltic Room rebrand was cool. Was fun to be a part of the process of seeing things update, and guiding the identity redesign by the usual process of ours. We just ask a lot of questions, at the start. It’s like 90% of the whole design project is happening at he start. You have to have that thrashing period so everyone can get the point where they can be honest and say what they really want to say instead of trying to please someone else at the table.

Somewhere along the way there’s a harmony that you can find… I guess design is like music in that regard, too… it just comes into shape on the spot when the mood is right and the people are in the spirit of being ‘on,’ intellectually and creatively, to do the jam, together.

I want to give people a chance to think clearly and long-term, so they don’t have to redo everything later.

Thought of it for two reasons this week.

  • One: I’m working on a few more issues of S P A C E to round out our Autumn 2019 collection, which includes stuff from the Baltic States visit , and
  • Two: I always liked electronica but I kind of can’t get over this:

Despite myself, I like it.

A Philosophy of the Moment · Creativity & Innovation · Desk Notes

Naming and brand identity design for software developers Matchbox

1 2‘OUR NEW NAME AND BRAND reflects how we’ve grown over the past three years from a research focused company to what we’re all about today: creating truly unique custom mobile solutions for our clients. You guys really helped us out with finding our niche.’ —Richard Stott, Matchbox Mobile, Brighton & Seattle 2008

 

A Philosophy of the Moment · Creativity & Innovation · Desk Notes · In Việt Nam

One Fish, Blue Fish for Miyabi Japanese Restaurant

In 2006, DK did this.

 

Creating a Japanese restaurant’s brand identity

A JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN the TUKWILA, WA area asked us to design a new brand identity when they realized they wanted a change.  They’d been in business for a while, but wanted a new image.

Still, Miyabi wasn’t 100% sure what story it wanted to tell through the rebrand and design for the new look. In addition to a menu, we also created a series of ads to run in local hotel directories, and Japanese-language telephone directories, too. We made a winter holiday postcard with this design, too, which was a lot of fun!

Design Kompany came up with the total brand image: a custom typeface for ‘Miyabi,’ custom illustrations, the color palette, and the typefaces to pair with the new logo. At first the owners of this Tukwila restaurant thought they might like a sleek, Japanese bistro look that would be upscale and posh. But after talking with Design Kompany, it became clear that “young people looking for a fancy date spot” just isn’t Miyabi’s target audience.

Families come here. Local regulars. And business folks who happen to be in the area, which is near Sea-Tac airport.“After going through [the questionnaire] with you guys,” Miyabi co-owner Hisako Shirakura said, “we realized we want a look that says ‘we’re fun.’

“We want people to know they can come here and have a nice time. And… we want to surprise them.”

“Quirky, in other words? A little… off-center?”

“Exactly!”

So we brought to the team Design Kompany illustrator Aaron Barker. “I was really enthusiastic about working with Design Kompany on a sushi restaurant’s logo,” he says. Aaron drew the fish and created the font for “Miyabi”.

I tried many ‘style’ concepts, from sketchy pencil to crisp vector graphics, abstracted letterforms to kawaii, or ‘Japanese cute.’ I’ve spent a lot of time around fish my whole life, visiting aquariums, commercial fishing… And in high school I even took a workshop with the famous fish illustrator Ray Troll. –DK illustrator Aaron Barker.

Keep an eye out for more from this up and coming artist, who sometimes signs his drawings “Aaron Bee.”

New business cards for Miyabi came out at the end of 2006.