Ground Work Essay 1: The ____ Is the Medium
By David Eardley, in conversation with Asia Grant
GROUND WORK is an essay series exploring Redoux's journey of identity building.
Lately, we’ve been thinking about the Balenciaga couch. A 2019 project of the now prominent Crosby Studios, the sofa was crafted from clear vinyl stuffed with discarded clothing and was intended to promote sustainable design. Whether or not it was successful in that regard, it reminds us of a larger truth about the world of brand-building today. These days, It’s not enough to have a style: today, a successful brand must build a world. For Balenciaga, that world was and is an interdisciplinary large-scale inversion of expectations and purposes in design. For other brands, perhaps it’s Y2K retrofuturism or New West Coast skate culture; whatever it may be, brands are now concepts, and each product - whether it be physical or experiential - is a glimmering piece of their entire world.
This series is an evolving conversation: a dialogue between two friends and collaborators about the future of commercial identity and the ways in which we see the world evolving. This has been an ongoing discussion between us, and what you’re reading is a cohesive, palatable version of our back and forth. As the author, this writing is important to my own development as an artist and functions as a kind of conceptual hobby - I love thinking about the way aesthetics, products, and thought come together, especially when they do so seamlessly. My interest and expertise here come from my work as a designer, curator, and design writer, as well as the founder of creative studio Pink Essay. For Asia, this branding thought is integral to the development and success of Redoux, as it serves as the link between her vision and you as the community. Empathy, intention, and accessibility - these are at the core of Redoux’s work and our decision to share a glimpse behind the curtain of our thought is woven into the process of making these values real.
To open the conversation, we’ve found there’s an important distinction to make between brand-building pre-2019ish and brand-building today. In the past, brands became known for a look: you could tell this was Prada, you could tell this was La Mer - logos, iconography, and patterns reigned; nowadays, the brand book is only one working part of a brand’s identity. By employing world-building techniques through social media, physical installations, and interdisciplinary experiences, we are invited in as participants to the creative process. Digital space allows us to peer into the imagined vacuum between idea and advertising, yearning to know every detail of the brand’s world. What color is, say, Paloma Wool? (violet blue) What material would it be constructed from? (limestone) What does it sound like? (A gentle bell)
All of these world building techniques tend to fall into two buckets: visual curation (moodboarding, etc.) and deep research (artifacts that inform brand consciousness and deep concept building). Upon examination, Paloma Wool employs both methods with a high level of success. A quick, informal photo on their Instagram shows a person (a model, perhaps? This feels deceptively irrelevant) eating breakfast in one of the brand’s shirts, while a cup of coffee is held up in the foreground. The image is simple but the impact is powerful, explaining to us that PW is for every occasion: easy, lovely, stylish - the feeling of a morning with a new fling.
Upon exploring their website, you find examples of their deep research under the Projects and Collaborations tab: photo essays, digital collages, and complex illustrations, all conveying a deeper message: Paloma Wool is a world of organic, expressive art. Futuristic forms and ancient textures are blended to create a vision that we, the consumer, buy into upon purchasing a shirt or skirt. This world is both light and ponderous, structured and windblown, evoking a vision for the future of all branding.
Analyzing this world-building is integral to growing a company because it allows us to both identify what steps lead to successful engagement and also envision a universe in which owning a business does not necessarily equate to taking money and handing out a product, but rather engaging with the population in a way that fosters art, self-expression, and community care. For Redoux, this work is our work: world-building is and has always been the glowing core within our range of products and experiences and we hold it close to our heart as we move, expand, and grow in a variety of directions.
In this series, we will explore the world of Redoux and what it means to build our brand today. This dialogue is not only for you, but for us as well - an ongoing conversation that gives us the space to be flexible, make errors, learn, and bring our dreams into the living world.
What color is Redoux?
What is it made of?
What does it sound like?
Let’s explore the GROUND WORK together.
David Eardley is a freelance design and writer and materials artist based in New York and Mexico City. You can explore more of his work at davideardley.xyz and @david_eardley