To-do list socks and an animating umbrella: take a peek at a collection made with your feelings in mind

A sub-brand of high-end Japanese brand Beautiful People, the more approachable sister company always keeps its customers emotions front of mind.

12 May 2021

Pre-pandemic, three of Wieden+Kennedy’s London team – Freddy Taylor, Andrew Bevan and Philippa Beaumont – headed out for a stint at the agency’s Tokyo location. During their three months in the city, before the trio had to head home on emergency flights for obvious reasons, Freddy thankfully got his head stuck into a thoughtful product design project with W+K’s Tokyo team, creating a more everyday, greener sub-brand for the high-end Japanese brand, Beautiful People.

Titled Beautiful People Feels, the sub-brand’s collection centres around products that evoke emotion in their owner. Not only are these products a little “more affordable, more every day, [and] more sustainable” than their sister brand’s, each is designed with a specific emotion in mind. “We had a whole wall of ‘feelings’, each with four to five potential products, each representing future, potential collections. It felt sort of limitless,” Freddy tells It’s Nice That. The team’s research showed that there are essentially 27 basic human feelings, “but we found that the more niche we went, the more interesting the outcome”.

In turn, the first products released by the brand have four specific “feels” in mind. Via a T-shirt perfect for hugging, Beautiful People Feels hopes to connect with a buyer by making them feel “closer” to another. Laziness is encouraged elsewhere in the collection by purchasing a tote bag that, when pumped up, doubles as a pillow. Other products encourage productivity through a speciality tea blend and socks that remind you of your to-do list. Other products can even make you smarter, such as a shower curtain and roll of toilet paper featuring facts. Others simply want to make you feel cosy, like the fuzzy feeling surrounding your ears when you pop on a beanie hat. “It’s nice to start with a feeling and work backwards, thinking about how to evoke that feeling within a product,” says Freddy. “It means you end up in much more unexpected places.”

GalleryWieden+Kennedy Tokyo: Beautiful People Feels (Copyright © Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo, 2021)

Attaching products to the team’s favourite feels was a collaborative experience, as they worked directly with Beautiful People’s head designer, Hidenori Kumakiri “and often within days of presenting ideas, his team were sending us photos of prototypes,” explains Freddy. “Then, Kumakiri adds a level of craft that elevates them beyond the finish you’d expect from clothing, whether it be incredible materials (we’d never heard of) or detailed printing techniques.” Each of the products is also brought to life with bespoke illustrations by Shohei Kawada, “an incredible designer and illustrator” at Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo.

Freddy worked with Shohei on his initial ideas and “his illustrations began filtering into the presentations and visualisations,” explains the designer. Always monochrome, his drawings somehow convey so much emotion in just a simple black and white line form, and the team “loved how simple, flexible and androgynous his style was”. As someone already so attached to the concept, it was a unanimous decision to have Shohei create the final pieces and “a no-brainer to let him own it all”. Shohei’s illustrative approach also lent itself to the brand’s want to be “universal to every culture” as well as directly communicating the feeling which inspired the product. “The ones that felt right were the ones you could look at and say the feeling before you read it,” Freddy adds.

Freddy’s favourite piece from the now-released collection is an umbrella. Although black and white and relatively simple in its design – featuring a group holding hands across its metal frame – once turned, in true Singin’ in the Rain style, they will start to dance together. It’s the perfect embodiment of a collection made to make you smile.

GalleryWieden+Kennedy Tokyo: Beautiful People Feels (Copyright © Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo, 2021)

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Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo: Beautiful People Feels (Copyright © Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo, 2021)

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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