At Sandstrom Partners, we do not decorate. That is a sometimes a perception of designers–we decorate to make things look cool, void of any real concept–shallow and surface beauty. Great concepts are not easy. Restraint, when a designer has so many tools and options, also is difficult. But great design is not typically something that is “added on.” Tazo is an example of design that has elements that could be described as decorative. However, the decorative elements were integrated into the concept and became a part of the curious history, texture, fabric and culture of the brand. The mixture of eclectic elements in asymmetrical application, combined with a classic symmetrical typographic format, created an unusual and distinctive balance. The brand was imbedded with dualities and contradictions: familiar and different, ancient and modern, wit and directness, clarity and opacity. While it would not have fit within the comfort zone of most clients, it found a large following of retailers and consumers ready for something different and beautiful and daring in a tired category. The tea category was reinvigorated and completely altered by its presence. The entire natural foods category was influenced by it as well, but it should be noted that beyond its visual direction, Tazo was also a superior product and was infused with the wit and intelligence of great storytelling, which added to its influence.
The studio here is broken up into teams, with four different creative directors overseeing other designers. This variety creates more learning and different perspectives of creative problem solving. Our more senior designers have a depth of awareness and experience and have exercised their creative muscles in many different ways. The juniors aid them, learn from them and bring fresh eyes, energy and skills to the work.
When a potential client asks us to describe three things that make our firm different from any other it isn’t easy to answer. One thousand and three things would almost be as simple. If it came down to three there would actually be little difference because the answers would be similar from firm to firm: our experience, our talent and our ability to solve problems. These are answers that don’t offer much insight. Often price, location, enthusiasm and relevant experience in their category determine the client’s decision. One big influence is a referral by a trusted advisor. Reputation and successful results of our work is another factor in a client’s decision to hire us.