Define the design direction for the Fall 2020-2021 season. Translate design direction to in-line products via, snowboards, bindings, boots and marketing assets. Present polished concepts to internal stakeholders for final approval. Work with marketing managers, PLM's, engineers and dark room artists for effective execution on product.
This project has finished development and will release Fall 2020 – key details have been omitted from this showcase.
The primary goal of this seasonal design was to capture the essence of the brand while running it through the lens of the end consumer. This poses a challenge in that, end user research/testing is a relatively new concept to K2 (last 2-3 years) and with this comes it's own set of obstacles. Mapping out which users to seek for feedback, tracking metrics with our sales force and adjusting when the opportunity presented itself was ambitious – but doable. We had a tight team that was up to the challenge.
ROLE: DESIGN DIRECTION, GRAPHIC DESIGN, ART DIRECTION
The direction process began with a brief from our stakeholders. We were tasked with creating creative to correlate with the statement, ”K2 is the Original American Ski and Snowboard Brand.” With this in mind, we proceeded to set the stage of the direction and it's appendages by flushing out the variables.
We began breaking down the statement and asking initial questions we needed for the foundation of the direction. Some initial questions are listed below.
We brainstormed ideas of what it meant to be American, from both a historic and present standpoint. As we began listing attributes it was ideal to solidify this foundation before moving forward with any graphic direction – in a sense, our map of the landscape. This would fulfill the brands seasonal vision.
The unearthing of specific questions and assumptions proposed by the team required affirmation and validity. We took three US trips to scout for insights into culture and to clarify what American values we hoped to convey as a brand. We pitched New York, Los Angeles and Whitefish Montana to assist our findings. Trips to the field are solid acts of attempting to grasp an understanding of how our products find real people and how it affects their lives. Also, if it's a good trip, it should spark inspiration, creativity and what's on the rise from a design perspective. Tapping into a local culture or subculture can inspire relatability and growth.
A deck of our findings is designed and presented to internal stakeholders to discuss our insights and steps forward.
We have a room dedicated to the seasonal generating and conceptualization of ideas. After each trip we add all imagery, ideas, branding themes, colors, fonts, patterns, textures and inspiration to the room for review. We'll divide the information into tiers and begin curating our design direction.
We coined the term 'American Mavericks' & built six graphic pillars to further develop and showcase our graphic direction.
Consistent branding was a strong ambition for the design team this year. Standardizing placement, sizing and orientation for our biggest product category was established to portray consistency within the All Mountain category of the line.
We took some liberties within the branding of our Freestyle category as there was a need for brand personality.The photo showcases our branding guide for snowboard product.
Every season a new set of colors are explored. It is our hope to stay current, fresh and encompassing when considering what colors consumers are relating with, but also what colors are being dictated by the market.
It's important to stay aligned with a color palette for relevancy purposes. As we began visually ideating mood, aesthetic and feels I noted patterns in colors by brands, made notes and implemented.
I was tasked with exploring type options for our brand font. Once I combed through my archives of great type houses/ designers, I began translating the fonts into relatable assets to provide an example of how'd they'd be utilized for buyoff – we landed at Blender Pro.
K2 needed a modern font that felt classic and unbreakable in its appearance. It needed to feel colossal when large but maintain a sturdy build when downsized. Blender Pro checked off all the boxes.
Typeface: Blender Pro
Originally Designed by: Nik Thoenen
Revision aided by: Schriftlabor
9 Styles: Thin, Thin-italic, Book, Book-italic, Medium, Medium-italic, Bold, Bold-italic, Heavy
Classification: Geometric Sans Serif
During our field trips to New York & Los Angeles we watched for commonalities of patterns. This tends to heavily factor the forecasting and research we implement each product season.
A loaded question we'll keep in mind during our exploration tends to be: What patterns and textures will point to a brands relevancy? What can establish its currency?
Key takeaways: real tree, animal print and neons.
NOTE: Photos depict an example of how a trend deck would be designed post field trip.
A great deal of time is spent understanding, learning and adapting to our end user. This consideration aids in mapping the graphics development. A deck to visually showcase the prospective consumer is created and a multiplicity of variables are considered. Learning when and how to advocate for the end users are constant focus points of discussion.
NOTE: The photo is an example – all consumer information has been omitted.
An imperative element of translating the design direction to inline product, by way of visuals, was through the use of story-telling. Stories provide an opportunity for relatability, can give rise to purpose and can act as a hidden discoverable for the consumer. Shared below are four showcases of graphic stories – two from our Men's line and two from ours Women's line.
The Instrument is a new men's all-mountain K2 snowboard for the Fall 2020 season. Which was a great opportunity as this would be the first-time our end user would experience the snowboard, the snowboards name and graphic. The graphic needed to be approachable but speak to F20’s K2. This graphic was consumer driven = quiet expressionism.
Designed a bit into the product name 'Instrument' to give the naming some love and support. Clean blocking with strong color accents to nod to the users supposed nature. A discovery element was needed to tie the concept together. An idea of an otter as the graphics muse arose.
Otters utilize tools, ie stones for survival or to thrive in nature. As they float on their back it was fun to wonder if one swapped out a stone tool for a musical tool/ instrument that they’d simply adapt and start playing. As they are maestros of innovation. This may be bit of a reach but was fun to consider. The idea migrated to hand-illustrating an otter playing a flute.
The Broadcast is a men's all-mountain K2 snowboard. The graphic inspiration was heavily tied to our design direction/ pillar of 'psychedelic research'. Instead of utilizing traditional psyche patterns or textures, the opportunity presented a challenge of visually portraying a more conceptual translation of psychedelics.
Can the board be seen as a vessel or vehicle of a psychedelic experience? What constitutes a psychedelic experience? The design began here.
With 'K2 in mind' @ the center of the experience and the intention of ‘showing the trip’ set, the graphic took on a life of its own. Firstly, there was a need to explore relatable steps that could be visually communicated and translatable. Seven steps were settled on.
The Outline is a women's premium freeride K2 snowboard. The graphic was consumer driven = an environmentally conscious user.
Graphic Research was centered around earth awareness and consciousness, 10 toes to the ground so to speak. A natura being or being of nature, almost sage-like. Drew inspiration from a Sage’s wisdom and considered representing the graphic as a sage plant. Drawing a sage leaf outlined for a more literal sense, as burning sage is said to promote strength and wisdom – thus ‘outlining’ this quality was something too highlight visually.
The board is tightly constructed, which aligned and correlated to the toughness of earth. This led to illustrating a natural looking sage plant on the top sheet – which was intended to lead a user to consider growth from the earth, as all 10 toes were firmly planted to the ground or board.
The Spellcaster is a new women's freestyle K2 snowboard for the Fall 2020 season. K2 wanted to fulfill a request by our women team riders, the result being a high-end tough and durable freestyle snowboard. Being a new board with a new name, we figured it was a good idea to design into the name to add some foundation. The graphic needed to both stand strong on its own and carry a story/ method to tap into its complexity. An idea of complex aggression arose.
Research was conducted on the art and history of spellcasting. It was learned that there's a balance to spellcasting with active and receptive principles - similar to that of yin and yang.
Another question arose of how to visually showcase some of the grit and resilient energy requested by our team riders. An idea arose of portraying these energies with a recipe for a spell, with the symbols of yang being positive reinforcements and yin being the counter balance/ literal elements.
The recipe would showcase the ingredients needed in order to communicate the positive and counter elements of the spell.
The properties comprised balance the recipe of the spell. Where the conduit of the spell or the caster is the snowboard. This conceptually tied into the 'complex aggression' of our high-end freestyle women’s rider.
_CRITIQUE & FEEDBACK
The 2020 K2 Snowboard Collection has passed through the final stages of development, department feedback and stakeholder buy-off. The collection will be available August 2020. Though metric-driven data has been omitted, product showcase to date has been well received.
This design season was solid, as it allowed for exploration in graphic story-telling and a deeper consumer understanding which are key elements of my design strategy.
As of May 2020, I have completed the same above process (design & art direction, graphic design and production design) for all snowboards, bindings and boots for the Fall 2021-2022 Season. F21 product released September 2021.