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The Tale of the Toolkit

Yellow and red poster with German text on it

For Creative Unions, Villalba Lawson created badges, posters and even a bespoke typeface inspired by travel, car stickers and registration type.

Villalba Lawson is the studio of design duo Christopher Lawson and Marcos Villalba who met while studying BA Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins. Lawson is Mexican-Irish and Villalba is Uruguayan-Spanish so their own collaboration echoes the Creative Unions international ethos in microcosm.

The focus of the brief was a logo that could offer flexibility, whether worn as a badge on a shirt, stuck to a poster or attached to a jpeg. “We liked the idea of this universal device, a standalone visual that could work across many mediums.”

They took inspiration from oval car stickers that state the vehicle’s country of origin using initials. The sense of travel and mobility was the context for the design, that roads remain the arterial connections across national boundaries:

“It’s about creating a nation with no borders. Creative Unions is, in a way, its own nationality made up of like-minded individuals.”
Marcos Villalba

Mid-point in the design process, Lawson suggested designing a typeface for the project. Confined only to capitals, the type takes its cues from car number plates continuing the theme.  “A typeface is a very effective and pragmatic way of creating your own tone of voice,” explain Villalba, “This identity is going to spread out and be taken over by various people, strict rules aren’t going to work, so having a typeface is an easier way to create that continuity.”

Alphabet printed in black on a white background

Once the badge was set, attention turned to what other assets could make up a Creative Unions toolkit. A series of posters as well as postcards brought their own problems, namely how to create something with a visual identity but that could be customised by the user? Reflecting on this design paradox, Villalba says, “Creative Unions is about freedom and that’s at odds with traditional visual identities which are based on guidelines. We needed something that was robust but yet can be cross-contaminated through use. So we supply these loose assets and then people take ownership of them. It’s a nice conceptual point of view but it’s risky. So, let’s take that risk.”

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