Have you ever eaten a cookie that tastes like pizza? We haven’t, but we like cookies – and we like pizza – so when we caught sight of Affordance Studio’s identity for Pizza Bear we instantly fell in love. And we were also slightly intrigued.
Pizza Bear is a new brand that’s serving up some tasty treats jam-packed with the zingy flavour of a pizza. An odd, unusual but equally magical combination to say the least, we can only imagine the taste and texture crumbling into your mouth – where the usual sweetness has been replaced by the iconic pairing of cheese and tomato. Perhaps a couple of mushrooms or controversial slices of pineapple. But, it’s something that Affordance Studio’s founder Atsushi Hirano thinks is a wonderful concoction. “The cookies were a very tasty pizza flavour,” he tells It’s Nice That. So when it came to designing the identity for the delicious treat, he says it had to be as scrumptious as the product. “I aimed for a design that was as bright as possible to convey the atmosphere of that flavour.”
As such, the identity pulls together a wonderful mix of visuals – including a friendly illustrated bear eating a slice of pizza (and rightfully so), plus a hand-drawn, jolly font for the brand. Not to mention a colour palette of vibrant yellow, sunset orange, pinks and blues that elevate the identity even further. If anything, the identity sends you back to the older days in school when you’d draw shapes and animals on a piece of paper, before highlighting it all with your favourite marker pen. Only this identity is much more purposeful, mature and refined – even if it is a little bit simple. “I wanted to create a character eating pizza,” adds Hirano, “and what kind of character would be cute eating pizza? I thought about it, and after thinking of several characters and trying out various designs, I came up with the idea of a bear.” Hirano also thought up the name Pizza Bear, which we think is a fitting choice for both the identity and the brand.
When you look at Hirano’s wider body of works, you’ll get a similar feeling evoked from Pizza Bear; everything’s playful, colourful and reminiscent of the playground. Born in Kanagawa, Hirano graduated from Tama Art University with a degree in graphic design. After which, he landed a role at Draft Inc., before establishing his own design studio Affordance in 2016. Through this, he began working on a variety of projects ranging from branding, product design, packaging, illustration and more. He’s clearly doing something right, too, as his work has been recognised and awarded the TDC Award, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award and SDA Award.
Another example of the studio’s output can be seen in the Cookie Union branding. In a similar vein, Hirano has constructed a packaging identity but this time for a separate cookie company – tins, bags and boxes included. Much more illustrative in style, the designer has created patterns of flowers and plants, while playful characters wave flags and jump around in various scenes of fun and play. After releasing this project into the world, Pizza Bear’s branding manager noticed the work (who could miss it!) and reached out to Hirano off the back of it.
While working on Pizza Bear, there are a few key elements that Hirano likes best. The first is the illustrative style, wherein he decided to work with thick lines on a white background – “that’s what I like most about it,” he notes. “I think it’s relatively important not to fill the design with colour.” By doing this, the illustration and design is brought to the fore; it makes “the design strong”. Hirano believes he’s successfully achieved this “to some extent” with this project, and we couldn’t agree more. “I also like the idea of stacking the boxes to create a stack of cookie illustrations.” The latter is a subtle, clever touch that adds an interactive – and also surprising – element to the identity, and will likely keep the customers coming back for more.
We won’t be surprised if, after reading this, you’ll want to go home and eat your own set of pizza flavoured cookies. As not only does the pairing sound surprisingly delicious, the packaging too is visually mouth-watering – perhaps good enough to eat.
GalleryAffordance Studio: Pizza Bear (Copyright © Affordance Studio, 2021)
Affordance Studio: Pizza Bear (Copyright © Affordance Studio, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.