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Us By Night

BEYOND BEAUTIFUL DESIGN

As graphic designers, we encounter the daily challenge of creating beautiful design. At some point, we pause to ask, what’s beyond this?

Beautiful design used to be a method to filter trust, exposing the quality of the brand behind the design. Today, beauty can be found everywhere. The consumer has become numb, even cynical, to the carefully crafted ads vying for their attention at every turn. They want more—a story, an experience or to feel something.

This forces us to raise questions, how can we engage beyond beautiful? How can we create compelling design without compromising functionality and experience?

We found some answers in Antwerp, Belgium.

While there, we attended “Us by Night”, an amazing experience where creatives and presenters gathered in a nighttime environment seeping with cool. Although we met many talented people, saw beautiful work and impressive portfolios, the best takeaway was listening to the creatives who are crafting a deeper meaning with their work. Those who are engaging in a different way.

Here’s what we learned:

Provide a solution and create conversation.

Ibrahem Hasan is a creative director and a multidisciplinary creative. His awe-inspiring projects are designed to create a conversation and breakdown classism. Through his work, he challenges himself and the brands he works with to give a voice to the underrepresented and generate curiosity about marginalized communities. His work defies convention and exposes a new point of view in an authentic way.

Break the norms but don’t compromise functionality, elevate it.

Nicole McLaughlin breaks the norms of fashion and sustainability, pushing innovation. The former Reebok designer turned upcycling master transforms sporting equipment and other used products into unique pieces, never compromising the original shape of the product. Her work focuses on rethinking what already exists, elevating its functionality and style into something the world has never seen.

Make it real.

On the other hand, we have Helen Kirkum, artist and designer creating new shapes of footwear from recycled sneakers; think a collage on a shoe.

“Her work fuses the process of wearing and making, challenging our visions of materiality and newness, to create something we recognize but which we are not used to seeing,” says Us by Night.

Every project she creates displays the beauty of her craftsmanship while elevating the stories behind discarded sneakers. For Kirkum, nothing matters more than jigsawing each piece into the right space, merging brands and logos to form a deeper story.

Make it accessible and call it what it is.

Anna Potanina is a Mobile UX and Design Specialist who is passionate about leveraging the power of data and creative thinking to help businesses effectively communicate to consumers.

She believes the user and their stories should always be at the center of design, therefore making it the designer’s job to provide the right tools for the user to interact with. Potanina pointed out that every user will have a different interpretation of a product or message. By making it simple and direct, we can ensure that consumers enjoy the same designed experience.

 

Collaborate.

Last but not least, collaborate. Lukas Kaiser, the SVP and Head of Content for Westbrook Media, does all things creative for Will Smith. The secret to his success? Scouting creatives around the globe to create unique, engaging and wildly entertaining content.

Kaiser believes the world is full of beautiful design, so there’s no need for his team to create more on their own. Instead, he’s forming a network of creatives to leverage unique skillsets and deliver the best in entertainment to his consumers.

Think beyond beautiful. 

In the end, every project is different. From print, film, product campaigns or digital content to simple and direct design or more complex visual compositions, one thing matters: to keep the consumer’s engagement with the story or product at the center of the design. To cut through the noise and dig deeper than the superficial. The story can provide impact and conversation, but beauty is what keeps it around and allows it to transcend. In the end, we need to challenge ourselves creatively to think beyond beautiful—to create what’s next.

POV by Marina Zertuche, Lead Brand Designer and Sofia Villarreal, Brand & Communication Designer at INDUSTRY.

Hero gif and video by Us By Night