Studio NA.EO’s bakery branding bases its design process on bread making
Formed from working together at a previous studio, the Beijing-based agency’s experience allows it to see the very core of a brand.
- Lucy Bourton
- 19 October 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
When Beijing-based graphic design agency Studio NA.EO are first trying to work out the priorities of its clients, it throws out questions to start a conversation and find a talking point both agree on. A recent example of this is the studio’s work for With Wheat, where it held a dinner to get to know one another a little better.
A well-known bakery in China, particularly known for its localisation of bread types a branch offers dependent on region, over the course of the dinner (aptly themed on flour and dough) the team realised that while not the most beautiful bread in the world, each edition is full of fillings and flavour. In turn, this conjured up an image of an identity which uses a very fine line, “outlining the external graphic,” while the inside is brought to life through various brightly coloured illustrations. “The design process is similar to the process of making bread,” outlines Studio NA.EO co-founder Mazzybox, “our visuals try to imply the shapes of fermented dough through expanding the internal structure of certain Chinese characters.”
Developing a visual language which is soft, while “the handling of all the strokes, and the edges of the character are a close reference to the tip of the wheat,” the result is an identity full of graphic flavour. An example of its ability to add visual flair with relevant context to a brand, Studio NA.EO’s ability to see a brand from its core is the result of its team’s vast experience over 15 years in the industry.
Founded by Mazzybox and Liu Zhizhi, Studio NA.EO’s beginnings grew out of a meeting of other studios in China. Liu, a highly regarded designer and both a member of AGI and a design tutor at Central Academy of Fine Arts, originally founded the studio Tomeetoyou Graphics in 2007 alongside the designer Guang Yu. Mazzybox joined the studio in 2013, following a post as the art director at the Chinese branch of The New York Times. The pair then formed Studio NA.EO in 2015, while Guang Yu moved on to form the equally brilliant studio, A black cover design. Five years on, the studio is now a multi-disciplinary studio made up of creatives with purposefully “different design orientations,” explains Mazzybox. Able to combine “graphic design, illustration, interactive interface, publishing and curating,” NA.EO can switch and combine disciplines and practice in which “almost every aspect of graphic design can be involved” – it even has a gallery too, For Sample.
Through its various forms and equally vast ideas, the studio has gathered a reputable reputation in China and beyond. Well known for its approach rather than a stylistic attribute, Mazzybox points out how NA.EO prides itself on being able to tease out “the underlying logic of each project,” she says. “We believe that we should at least complete the construction of Chinese modernity from the level of design vision.”
It was this reputation that originally caught the eye of With Wheat, at the time looking to rejuvenate its brand image following the appointment of a new brand director in 2019. “The reason why they came to us was probably because we were able to give more consideration to branding while doing graphic design,” adds Mazzybox. Its variety was also a plus for the brand, recognising Studio NA.EO’s ability to reach and relate to wide audiences with its gallery For Sample, which has received huge success on Chinese social media, and “has given our clients the confidence to make an important choice”.
Not only a quality which shines in this project, Studio NA.EO’s portfolio offers design personality through various means, whether it's through posters within its project Art for the People, or through ephemera and tactility within further projects like Fully Monty or As Within So Without. Coming back to With Wheat however, Mazzybox concludes that the studio wish “the design will leave consumers with not just the impression of a bakery brand, but also warmth, fun and joy when visiting With Wheat” – a quality design fans will also leave with when looking at the studio’s work.
Studio NA.EO: With Wheat (Copyright © Studio NA.EO, 2020)
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.