Montréal-based studio Wedge is sensitive to details in its brand identities
While not defined by an aesthetic, Wedge’s projects are recognisable through their use of colour, detail and a sense of familiarity, even when something is entirely new.
- Ruby Boddington
- 17 March 2020
Wedge is a creative studio based in Montréal, spearheaded by Justin Lortie and Sarah Di Domenico, which brings together “the care of an intimate design studio but with the output of a large scale agency.” It’s a specific practice borne from Justin and Sarah’s backgrounds in graphic design and advertising, respectively. “When Sarah and I combined our different skills, something interesting happened,” Justin says.
The studio works across myriad projects, but its primary outputs are identities, packaging, products and objects, and campaigns. While Justin describes how the studio’s work isn’t “defined by an aesthetic”, there is definitely a Wedge touch: “Use of colour, sensitivity to detail, a sense of familiarity in that, even if it’s new, it somehow feels natural.” In turn these elements lend Wedge’s portfolio a certain finesse, a slickness that permeates all of its projects. Typography and photography, in particular, are executed to a high level, leading the image of many of the brands the studio works with.
It’s important for the studio, however, that each project looks different to the last; that it responds solely to the brief at hand. “We call our research phase ‘Cultural Foraging’, inspired by René Redzepi, co-owner of Copenhagen-based two-Michelin star Noma, who forages for special ingredients in the forest and experiments with them,” Sarah elaborates. “We believe inspiration can come from a variety of unexpected places and so we apply this curiosity in our process.”
A recent project saw the studio evolving the brand of Canadian furniture company EQ3. While not everything is made in Canada, Wedge identified that all of EQ3’s products are “Made in Consideration” – of people, the planet, and of your space – and are distinctly Canadian through an attitude, not an aesthetic. “This insight gave way to a campaign that anchored the brand’s entrance into New York City,” Justin explains. “Within the campaign, we created a video series that is very special because it represents a different way to show furniture wrapped up in a Canadian calmness, presented from the POV of a new, Canadian-modern aesthetic.”
Alongside the campaign, Wedge evolved elements including the brand’s logo, standardised design systems, and provided a guide for photography and branded elements across channels. “This project really represents the power of design and strategic thinking,” Justin continues.
The power of design is something the studio considers highly, with Sarah telling us: “Design can make you feel good. And that feeling has lasting power. I believe that in raising the aesthetic value of something, you can raise the emotional value throughout everyday life. Just think of a beautiful box of orange juice you remember from childhood! The emotional and thoughtful are a powerful duo!”
Another example of the studio’s branding work is a testament to its search for distinct character within an identity. This is usually something achieved through simple variables Justin explains: “Graphic design is a very rudimentary set of elements: typography, colours, space, and shapes, that allows you to create so many different expressions and forms.” For instance, when working with Drav, a beer brand, it was colour specifically which led the way.
“The pink became iconic to the brand,” Sarah tells us. Having studied iconic examples from the world of beer branding, Wedge wanted to develop something in-keeping with these ideals but with a tone fit for today’s culture. A major inspiration for the visual language was Duff beer from The Simpsons which manifests in a bold identity combining block colours and contemporary typography. “When we applied the two-colour system, it felt like we hit something special in the category,” Justin adds. Through photography, this identity is then translated in an editorial manner which conveys Drav’s “true spirit”: “an everyday product, accessible to the masses.”
Whether working on something with an energetic aesthetic like with Drav, or on something which feels more mature like EQ3, Wedge approaches all of its projects with a certain thoroughness, producing specific visual languages which mirror the character of its clients. “There are so many exciting projects out there but what makes a project a Wedge project is room to push the dial,” Sarah concludes. “The desire to do something different and to delight.”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.