If there’s one thing studio Lava Beijing loves, it’s a good pun. “Waiting for the joke to drop requires the viewer’s involvement”, begins design director Céline Lamée, “I think in design this is no different”. And so, whilst loving to weave jokes and quips throughout their work, the studio also wants to make sure their audiences actually get their humour. “We put something out there and we need the viewer to complete the ‘joke’. Only then I feel we have made a successful design. However funny or clever we think a work is, if our client doesn’t see it, we should start over.” And, importantly, Céline adds, the team is always sure not to take themselves too seriously; “we’re not medics or pilots”. On top of this foundation of funniness, the studio always strives for a level of visual simplicity. Sticking to one idea at a time, the team avoids layering ideas and condenses their work “down to its simplest form so that everyone can understand it”.
It’s these two poles of thinking – humour and simplicity – that define the studio’s five-year collaboration with Jujukong, a pet snack brand. A “clean break” from traditional pet food packaging, the designs rely on an illustrative style, depicting various spirit animals. With howling wolves, and a growling, dog-faced moon, Céline tells us that the packaging was designed to “entice the wild canine spirit”. Basing the concept of “totems” and featuring spiritual iconography the identity also demonstrates “the complexity and sophistication of man’s best friend”.
Sticking within the natural world, last year’s theme for the China International Fashion Fair (CHIC) – for whom the studio created a visual identity – was “garden”. Hoping to inspire a “spring-like feeling”, with an array of abstracted flowers, the identity was as eye-catching as it was charming. With the fair being divided into 13 categories, the studio gave each one a flower to match, many of which were chosen for their significance within Chinese culture as well as their natural beauty, such as hibiscus, lotus and peonies. Featuring a black background, with bright luminescent flowers, the designs perfectly blend the sophistication associated with the fashion world and the vibrancy of flora and fauna.