Giving waste a new lease of life, Iya studio’s brand identity for Handle celebrates a circular model

London-based studio Iya creates a visual identity mirroring the process of repurposing materials for sustainable luxury brand, Handle.

29 April 2021

Designing for a sustainable brand carries a particular responsibility. Not only do you need to communicate the capabilities of the product, but the ethos behind the company is just as important to represent visually. For Matt Cottis, creative director at London-based studio Iya, this ability to scratch beneath the surface of a brand became his focus recently, when developing the branding for innovative startup Handle.

Rather than seeing used beauty packaging as waste, Handle views this “rubbish” as raw material ready to be repurposed. Adopting a circular model approach, “they collect beauty packaging from salons, retailers and consumers, then recycle and repurpose the different materials to create a premium range of beauty accessories,” Matt tells It’s Nice That. From toothbrushes to razors and mirrors, all the handles surrounding these products “are made entirely from material they recycled,” he continues. “What materials they don’t use, they sell back to the manufacturers of beauty packaging to be used again.”

To communicate Handle’s mission the studio were keen to mirror the process of repurposing in the brand’s visuals, reinforcing a process where the amalgamation of recycled materials translates into the identity. Lifting inspiration from the patterned handles, which immediately communicates the past life of the products, Iya continued to combine further elements in its typographic approach. Using a combination of sans and serif type treatments, the team furthered this idea by integrating fluid patterned shapes onto its packaging – a firm nod to the reimagined material it takes from. Adding to this idea of recycled and repurposed materials, Iya studio also created short animated treatments focusing on how the fluid outlines take on a new shape and reform as they playfully bump into one another.


Iya Studio: Handle (Copyright © Iya Studio, 2021)

With sustainable luxury at the core of the brand, this quality took centre stage when considering its personality through packaging. Handle’s products would also be sharing shelf space with luxury brands in retailers such as Selfridges and Browns, meaning “the brand and packaging had to feel high end but also with a core focus on sustainability,” says Matt. This was also a key consideration when deciding the typefaces to pair together on packaging. Choosing Mabry and Plantin, “we were really keen to use a sans with some personality and approachability alongside something more classic,” explains the creative director, “which again, links to how they’re using a diverse range of beauty packaging to come together and create something new.”

With the brand’s mission and methods being a constant reference through every step of Handle’s design, Iya’s approach is a direct reflection of its ethos. Each element compliments one another with simplicity, also allowing the branding to make way for the product to speak. As Matt adds, “the subtle graphical references of the material creates this connection in a subtle way.”

Since starting out around 15 years ago, Iya studio has worked on projects across a mix of industries from fashion, lifestyle, culture and beauty, working with Folk clothing, Sonia Boyce, Nike, Gramicci and Kiosk Magazine, to name only a few clients. Working on projects that cover brand, print, digital, packaging and interiors, this approach is brought together by its Deptford-based team of five designers. It’s the team;s particular interest in the genuine craft that goes into products that the studio pays close attention to, “so finding a real close relationship between the output and how they are made is really key for us,” adds Matt. To design an identity that truly considers and reflects the sustainable mission, “We’ve really been on a journey of education with regards to sustainable materials and practices,” reflects the creative director, adding that it’s a responsibility the studio will long be committing to in its work.

GalleryIya Studio: Handle (Copyright © Iya Studio, 2021)

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Iya Studio: Handle (Copyright © Iya Studio, 2021)

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About the Author

Grace Lister

Grace joined It’s Nice That on a freelance basis in April 2021, alongside completing Make Your Own Masters. She works as a freelance designer, researcher and writer, working on projects that look to emerging shifts and how creativity shapes this.

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