Moskito Design + DaVinci Varese: We’re all mad here
Q&A with 3 of our crack designers about the Davinci Varese shop relaunch, pushing their creative boundaries and the joys and challenges of working with independent clients.
Moskito Design recently completed a project to help Davinci Varese, one of Varese’s premier fashion boutiques, celebrate its 20th anniversary with a relaunch of its establishment after a summer-long rehab. The project evolved in three distinct phases. The first, our pre-relaunch work, included window adhesives advertising the work in reconstruction work in progress and Davinci Varese’s relocation to a temporary shop. The second advertised the reopening with a new display website and brochure. The last phase was the relaunch party, We’re All Mad Here, or our take on Alice’s passage via Wonderland into adulthood. We created the invitations and designed the window displays for the grand reopening gala.
I sat down with Moskito Design graphic designers Giulio Clerici, Iris Ranzani and Leo Traversa to chat with them about their work for Davinci Varese and the joys and challenges of working with independent clients.
Tell me a bit about your relationship with the client, DaVinci Varese.
G: Moskito Design’s been working with them for since 2011, but I just started with them last year. They’re great because they give you a lot of freedom and let you get on with the work. And they’ve got the budget to really try new things. But being an independent client they don’t put a lot of restraints on you, they let you do it.
I: And because Davinci Varese’s business is fashion, they give us the opportunity to do stuff that’s really creative. They’re really receptive and let us go outside the lines. We can propose very creative things and they’re very open to new ideas.
Tell me about the brief.
L: It all evolved one step at a time. In the summer we did the windows. And then they asked us to do the invitation to the party.
G: They wanted to do something original for the event, which took place before the Christmas holiday. They’d just redone the boutique and they wanted to throw a party to inaugurate the reopening. And they asked us to think of something original.
L: It was in planning the invitations that we came up with the Alice concept, which we then extended to the party and the windows. Everything developed one step at a time, but we tied it all together through the style and the concept.
“Alice” was your idea?
L: It was Evy’s idea originally (NB: Evelina Borghesan, owner and Art Director of Moskito Design).
G: Yeah, and we really liked the theme because it’s a mix of fantasy, the idea of growth.
L: And it plays with the idea of a journey toward maturity.
Like Davinci? It’s their 20th anniversary.
L: Exactly. It’s very feminine and it fits well with Davinci Varese’s profile. It recalls the idea of going into a new phase of life.
G: And Alice is very relevant today.
L: Yeah, it’s is always contemporary. The book is still really outside the box. It’s become practically a cult work, and they’re still making movies of it.
G: And it ties in well with fashion.
L: It’s a bit surrealist, too. The story is really kaleidoscopic and it opens up a lot of different worlds to play with.
With three designers working on this project, how do you divide up the work?
I: Well, of course it just depends a bit on who’s available at the time. But then again the brochure and the site had to be closely tied, so in doing the one I also developed the other. But in the case of the window display both Giulio and Leo made proposals to the client, and when they’d chosen one road to follow both designers worked on the actual project.
How does the project fit in with the client’s long-term branding strategy?
G: In terms of visual communication, they asked us to follow the new look of the shop when we created the brochure and the layout of the website.
I: The shop design is industrial and minimalist.
G: But in the end Davinci Varese is a brand that sells other brands. On one hand, it’s got a unique identity. On the other, Davinci has to leave room for the other brands that go inside. You could look at this whole project as a brand refresh.
What’s your approach to working with the client on a project like this?
L: For the windows, Evelina and I met with the owner, Franca Gardani, in the shop to take measurements and talk about how to design the adhesives.
I: In my case I was already familiar with the shop from lots of window shopping. But most of the contact with the client was through email.
G: For the rest, let’s say that there’s a lot of exchange once we get into the final phase. Once the concept is chosen, there’s always a series of challenges to work out and the collaboration becomes more intense. Also because in this case there wasn’t just the final client but also the printers and the window dressers that we had to work with.
You mentioned challenges, Giulio. What was the biggest challenge about this project for each of you?
G: For me it was working with new materials. I learned a lot about the limits and freedoms of some special materials we worked with for the window display.
I: I think the biggest challenge for me was doing something original with the limited elements. The client wanted to work with just a few images and elements from the boutique, and when you’re working with constraints like that it’s not always easy to do something totally original.
L: But we worked with the colors black and white, which were already strong in Davinci Varese’s identity, and gold, which you’ll find in the big chandelier when you go into the shop, and I think we tied it all together nicely in the end.
What did you like best about this project?
G: The phase of getting the window display up. I do a lot of digital work, so doing something physical like that was nice.
L: What I liked most was the creativity, because we had a lot of freedom with this project. And then, the chance to do the graphics, the illustrations, which is something that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes there are a bank of images we have to use and it’s more restrictive.
You each work with a number of bigger clients, like eBay, Lindt & Sprüngli, Royal Air Morocco, Select Trade and Carglass. But what are the challenges or benefits of working with a small client like this?
L: Being an independent shop there are many fewer brand guidelines to follow. It’s less institutional, and so it’s easier. Communication becomes much easier.
I: Definitely. There aren’t a lot of offices or rules, so it’s easier to get things done.
G: Yes, in terms of communication. And I really liked working on smaller branding projects like VipLüYou, which we did last year, because every project is very different. But if we’re talking about how easy it is, while guidelines can restrict you, working with big clients’ guidelines can also make things easier.
What do you think this project says about the agency, Moskito Design?
L: I think it shows that at Moskito Design we can handle creative projects in a range of media, from the web to print―
I: To window displays. It wasn’t our first experience with that and with every new project you have the chance to learn more, but now I think it’s something we’re stronger in than ever before.