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Digging into design: Leslie David visual identity for Sowvital

As part of FIDO contents, we’re gathering here some women designers to talk about some of their works. The Digging into design section aims to focus on the method and the strategy to approach a design project, presenting specifically the ideas that stand behind it and the step-by-step.

Leslie David is a French art director who founded in Paris her own creative agency in 2010. The Leslie David Studio focuses on creating visual and conceptual solutions across branding; print and digital designs; photo; art direction and illustration. “I’ve started as a freelancer and I never really wanted to create a studio, it just happened. I was too busy so I started to take people with me, interns at first and then assistants and then the team grew a bit. My goal is not to have a big studio, I really want to keep it small because what I most like is doing creative work. I understood that if I grew too much, I would lose this part of the job, so right now we are four people, including a studio manager and a project manager working with me” Leslie explains. 

While talking about projects and clients, the designer admits that she recently took the decision to try to accept only projects that make her feel fully comfortable. For quite a long time—above all after the Glossier branding project they did along with illustrator Charlotte Delarue—all the clients that reached the studio belonged to the beauty industry. “In my work I think I really benefited from being a woman,” said the designer, “and this is another aspect of the gender disparity. When it comes to the cosmetic industry maybe it’s just easier working with women because we’re the target of the branding, of the campaigns… It’s actually a disparity generated by the need to involve someone who’s the final consumer of the products” she said.

For this chapter of Digging into design we had the chance to talk with her about the visual identity her studio is doing for the newly launched plantcare brand Sowvital, one of these clients that gives her enough freedom to experiment and not get bored. To get to the right product and develop a vegan and sustainable formula, the brand took quite some time, and the creative studio developed the visual identity simultaneously: “We got stuck between the first step of the brand, basically the identity, and the following process of developing the products themselves, and then the packaging, which is another layer of complexity because it also takes a long time to select good materials and good suppliers, and then producing them. So branding is always quite a long process when there are products.” In fact it took them almost two years to get to the official launch of the brand in May 2022.

One of the things that comes clear from our conversation with Leslie is the importance of a good and trustful relationship with the client. The field to which it belongs, on one hand, helps to be more—not motivated, because a professional always is—but more inspired and involved, maybe yes: “I think that the values of the brand are very important and in this case they resonate a lot with the values of the studio.” And also the level of trust that a designer can expect from the client is a reason to be more creative, as it is in this case, “the client has a visual culture, he likes design, especially interior design, and was really pleasing to work with him because we didn’t have to justify or explain too much our brief and our ideas as sometimes happens with the clients.” A productive collaboration is always a rewarding experience and also a good case study to present:

We can now enter into the details of the visual identity and have a look at the color palette of the project. Considering that it’s a plantcare brand, a green palette may seem the most reasonable choice, but “the green was more natural than mandatory indeed” she admits. “We also tried to include other colors, it was a bit difficult for us to find the proper palette, and the products are actually green but the green isn’t so present in the rest of the identity. Here there are so many assets and so many things to convey that we gave us the freedom to choose between both black and green. We also defined gradient details for each product to give a sort of scientific allure to the packaging.” Freedom is the word that we’d also use to define the direction of the font seleccion: 

The collaboration is going so well that there are a bunch of ideas that are becoming real side projects of the identity itself. Leslie couldn’t tell us much more than this, but she talked of a book, an art collection and exhibition of botanical illustrations, and the will to build around the brand a community of avant-gardeners. We can do nothing but wait and see where this leads them. And good luck!

We want to thank Leslie for her vivid insight into the design process for this chapter of Digging into design. See you in the next episode with another exceptional guest!.

*** All the images are property of ©LeslieDavid, you’ll need her explicit permission to reproduce them

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