Four students from the specialisation Brands & Identity are taking home a pencil from D&AD New Blood Awards for breaking new ground in beauty branding.
Stubble – A Beauty Brand for Realists was selected from among hundreds of thousands of other submissions. The students reveal their work process and discuss awaiting the winners rankings to be revealed on 7 July.
Fanny (drawing) : “It’s not that easy to draw an anus”
Vanessa: “It kind of looks bloody”
Laura: “It’s pink!”
Fanny (offended): “Yeah well, I still have to define it!”
Fanny Zintl, Almut Pumpluen, Vanessa Huss and Laura Fritz are third-year international Fashion & Branding students at AMFI who hail from across Germany. They’re in Brands & Identity, a specialisation for Branders to build a deep understanding of the ‘why’ behind the reasons brands exist. Through the process of finding solutions to real-world briefs from brands, students investigate how brands evolve in the greater context of society and culture.
Winning a pencil from the D&AD New Blood Awards is instant validation of your talent in the design and advertising industry. Annually the D&AD organisation teams up with global brands to open industry-caliber briefs to students, recent graduates and under 24s around the world. This year seventeen briefs were launched from brands ranging from Adobe, to Dazed, to Ford, and of course thirty-year-old independent brand design agency DesignBridge.
Coached by programme coordinator Jo Watson, online strategist and lecturer Casimir Morreau, and Art Director Pepe Villaverde, the teams had 5 weeks to formulate a solution and work out a concept for their brief. The DesignBridge brief was to create a beauty brand that challenged beauty conventions and a translation to product design and packaging.
The students were guided throughout the semester by a range of guest lecturers from the creative industry, and visits to consumer research agency Mare and leading branding pioneers like Wieden & Kennedy. The D&AD awards was an extracurricular pursuit for these four, as it was for several fellow classmates who pursued some of the other briefs.
Questions for Fanny, Vanessa, Almut and Laura:
What was it like to break down the brief and understand what was being asked?
All of us were immediately drawn to the Design Bridge brief as it wasn’t directly related to fashion and touched upon a subject we all have a personal connection to. Also, having absolutely no experience in packaging design made it an exciting challenge and allowed us to explore skills outside of our comfort zone. Of course it was very important to really understand the brief and what exactly was being asked – however we also tried to put our own spin on it, stretching it a little to really find a new and exciting angle.
How did you approach teamwork?
Working as a team came quite naturally, also because we knew each other’s ways of working from previous projects and which skills everyone would bring to the table. We are also pretty close personally, which made working together very enjoyable and also resulted in a certain level of trust, where everyone felt comfortable sharing ideas but also was able to be brutally honest. But overall we just wanted to have fun without setting any specific goals and to really do something that would express our own views versus being bound to the structure of the usual study program.
“Fanny, are those supposed to be ovaries covered in sperm or a ball sack with lice?”
Did you have any knowledge or experience you could draw upon?
We knew that it would be difficult to compete with actual packaging designers, but also felt like we had a certain advantage due to our branding background from AMFI. Instead of only coming up with a concept regarding the packaging we decided to create an entire brand around it, which we felt could set ourselves apart from others. Having the additional luxury of personal coaching sessions of three teachers from different backgrounds, definitely made it easier for us to stay focused on what the idea was really about. Also, since we just got back from our internships we were more confident in our skills, which helped in coming up with our own vision on the topic.
Can you share some of the most impactful insights from your research?
Being confronted with manipulated pictures in fashion everyday, we grew sick of the unrealistic image conveyed not only by the beauty industry but in general in the fashion industry. We knew that washing your hair every single day is actually not healthy at all and realised that we are actually fighting nature and the way natural bodies are supposed to work. Our research opened a very direct conversation within our group and after we overcame the phase of turning red when talking about vaginas, sweat and poop, we had a lot of fun figuring out how ridiculous and unnecessary some products are that the beauty industry tries to sell us. Ultimately working on this project has made us more aware and has definitely inspired us to really embrace the “stubble-way” of dealing with our bodies.
Laura: “Is that the penis?”
Almut: “Yes, see, I even added little feet!”
How did you go about coming up with ideas based on your initial research?
First of all we wanted to really do something that we could personally relate to and that would solve a problem we each knew from our everyday lives. So in general the idea for stubble came quite intuitively. Then, like with every creative process, it was all about fine-tuning and circling in on our thoughts, really finding a coherent, memorable message that would still express all the little nuances and quirks.
Was there a specific source of inspiration for the visual style and tone of voice of Stubble?Initially we were inspired by an independent magazine from Berlin called “LOVED&FOUND”. Their #10 Sex Issue depicts bold and fun illustrations and talks about body behaviours in a refreshingly unpretentious and authentic way. This sparked our interest and encouraged us to address a topic that we would usually feel awkward talking about.
Did you look at old D&AD (New Blood) work which won awards? If so, what were your favourites and how were you inspired by them?
We found a few examples that got us excited to enter, such as Tom Watkin’s “When I’m a Dad” that was based on a simple idea yet had a strong emotional touchpoint and therefore immediately connected with the viewer. Besides that, we focused more on developing our own design language than being heavily inspired by other projects.
These four’s answer to a brief to challenge beauty ideals resulted in Stubble. The team’s submission was handpicked from among over 200,000 others for a Pencil award. Their brand cuts through the crap of beauty utopia by staying realistic about what bodies actually look like and need:
“The beauty industry can easily make us feel shame for our natural bodies, removing, disguising or selling us stuff we just don’t need – long lists of ingredients where only a few would do for multiple uses. Stubble wants to challenge these taboos surrounding intimate body behaviours and encourages a new generation to celebrate what the industry labels as dirty. By offering confrontational products, such as lube, wet wipes and dry powder, that are covered in frisky and bold illustrations, we transform articles that are usually hidden in the back of beauty shelves into proud lifestyle choices.”
Check out more about the concept on the D&AD New Blood awards site.
Article by Fashion & Branding lecturer Kimberly Waldbillig.