Funnily enough, when the San Fransisco-based The Office of Ordinary Things used to be the Boulder-based Cast Iron Design, Principal Jonny Black came to speak to one of my college classes. His pure creative genius has stuck with me to this day, and I'm honored to be writing about one of his company's latest design systems for Sweep Balayage Bar.
Sweep focuses on a hand-painted hair-dying technique, and because of this unique procedure, the branding system follows suit. In a way to bring in the hand-painted aspect, window graphics are all purposefully imperfectly hand-painted. The complete design system is surrounded by a 70's style sunrise motif with a color palette to match, creating an approachable and lively aesthetic. It's evident that every detail has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb, and while I don't currently dye my hair, I think I might need to book an appointment at Sweep.
Inspired by the hand-painted process and sun-kissed results of the eco-friendly hair coloring technique, we created a brand identity for Sweep Balayage Bar that captures the salon’s chic yet playful attitude.
Balayage is a hair coloring technique invented in France and popularized in the 1970s. Whereas conventional foil coloring techniques result in rows of uniform highlights, balayage’s unique hand-painted technique results in randomly placed swipes of color that have a more natural appearance. The chemicals used in the balayage process—gentler on hair as well as the environment—give the hair a more natural, “sun-kissed” look. This inherent quality gave way to the brand’s signature 70s-inspired sunrise motif which is integrated throughout the brand in the form of borders, badges, and illustrations.
The brand’s primary typeface, Columbia Sans Display, has distinctive italics that harken back to 1970s-era heavy-bottom fonts (seeexamples) and blend seamlessly with the brand’s retro-modern aesthetic.
We extended the balayage painting motif to the brand illustrations and building signage. Instead of using conventional (and environmentally problematic) vinyl window graphics, we commissioned a local sign painter to hand paint the designs, resulting in a perfectly imperfect handmade aesthetic that mirrors the balayage process.