The changing Singaporean design scene and how an e-commerce agency turned to branding

Darling Visual Communications’ creative director Chin Yuanhong on why “the design should be simple, the creative process should never be.”

Date
5 August 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

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Darling Visual Communications was founded in 2011, originally as a website design company creating e-commerce websites using flash. A decade later and the Singapore-based studio has changed tact significantly. Now an award-winning multidisciplinary design consultancy, the studio prides itself on designing unique brand identities for a range of clients, from coffee roasters to artisanal chocolate and restaurant businesses. The transformation from web designers to branding agents was gradual, as creative director Chin Yuanhong tells us: “Our clients frequently approached us with their competitors’ sites as a reference for their own. However, that was a compromise on their brand’s visual identity, the very representation of their company’s essence and expression.” The lack of branding led Darling to specialise in the matter, growing over time to become known as a design studio.

Approaching each new brief with an open mind, Darling allows the research to guide the visual solution. “Our objective is to find the balance between ‘creating’ the brand and ‘translating’ the company’s vision,” adds Yuanhong. In turn, the team of designers are fiercely critical in each and every step of the creative process, guided by the mantra: “The design should be simple, the creative process should never be.”

While Singapore is not necessarily known for its creative scene, the creative director tells us about the growing industry at present. “It’s thriving right now, especially with the help of the government to promote and push the industry,” says Yuanhong. With increasing amounts of young people looking to join the creative community and express their creative passion, Yuanhong notes an undoubtable recognition for the importance of the arts in comparison to a decade ago.

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Darling Visual Communications: The Acai Collective (Copyright © Darling Visual Communications, 2021)

Despite this uptake in creative endeavours, the creative director admits that some business owners still prefer to opt for templated designs, “compromising their ability to imbue meaning into the design of their brand.” With this in mind, Darling positions itself as a bridge between companies and design artistry. Slotting itself amongst a love and appreciation for branding, and the wants and needs of a client, the studio likes to go beyond the surface when attacking a brief. This means looking into how a conceptual design system can be translated deep into all layers of the business.

Yuanhong talks us through a couple of recent projects of late. The first, sees Darling create the identity for Compound Coffee Company. Designing a logotype inspired by chemistry flow charts, the studio references the company’s title in a straightforward interpretation, where there is little room for brand confusion. Taking an almost scientific approach to the branding, which resonates with the company’s vision to be a leading roasters specialising in research and experimentation, the design also seeks to highlight how coffee is produced by a “chain” effort – from the farmers who harvest the beans to the barista who makes the cup of coffee in the end.

Elsewhere, Darling designed a custom display typeface for a local magazine. The typeface embodies both Eastern and Western influences, capturing a spirit which can be found in much of Singapore. Starting out by collecting samples of oriental calligraphy, the design process saw Darling merge the brush strokes with Latin letterforms and after multiple iterations, the final bespoke typeface was complete. Recently, Darling has also designed an art book titled The New Thinking for Ang Ah Tee, devised the brand identity for clothing brand Dear Collective and much more. As for the future, the agency hopes to become more global and more interdisciplinary, expanding into product design and other areas of the arts too.

GalleryCopyright © Darling Visual Communications, 2021

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Twig

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Raffles Institution Reunion Day

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Gen A

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Compound

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Batu Lesung

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Ang Ah Tee

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Academia

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Darling Visual Communications: Ang Ah Tee (Copyright © Darling Visual Communications, 2021)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

jo@itsnicethat.com

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