Nikolaev Case Study
Prolific and world renowned architect I.M. Pei says, “Architecture is the very mirror of life. You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society.”
What an ethos, to understand that the ability to craft beauty is to be attuned to what is spatial, what induces awe, and what is relevant to the needs of the community consuming the art.
Branding, though very different from architecture, inherently understands this ethos. Metaphorically, to build, transform, evolve, or elevate a brand, is to chisel layer upon layer until something both necessary and insurgent is born.
Good branding is not haphazard design ideas thrown out in meetings; it is the delicate process of unearthing the good and bad of what a company is and what, with strategy and insight, a company could be. Ideally, a brand is the apex of its clients hopes, dreams, beliefs and desires.
So when we began working with award-winning sculptor and jewelry designer, Kim Nikolaev, we wondered: in a fashion industry inundated with noise, how do we ensure those visiting her site cast their eyes and feel the spirit and reflection of themselves?
We became obsessed trying to design something that would mirror the way Nikolaev bridges the world of nature and luxury, sentimentality and rationality, the masculine and the feminine. She is meticulous and intentional with the details of each piece in order to exhibit the beauty of the biological world. Hence, we knew there needed to be a forging of the chic, delicate nature of her pieces with the industrial, durable nature of their formation.
We began by offering a series of logos that offered four different directions:
In this approach we combine the softness of a signature with the strong luxury brand feel of capital letters. It is softened once again with the lowercase phrase “nature constructed.” Throughout there is a blend of masculine and feminine energies inspired by the softness of botanical elements forged in metal.
This approach is a nod to the Nikolaev’s Russian heritage. The simplicity of the design has an almost heirloom quality to it. E is reversed inwards as a reflection of Russian characters. The A and E are the first two vowels in Western language and they represent the beginning of communication.
This design is reflective of the artists work. Botanical forms are reduced to their essential shapes and are repeated. So too are the leaves here that carry a strong, manufactured feel yet still retain an organic quality. Their softness is in contrast to the more masculine capital serif font letters.
This approach reflects a simple sentimentality contrasted against a strong serif font. It illustrates an elegant femininity against a strong masculine concept.
Kim Nikolaev most resonated with the signature logo attached to the tagline: Botanical Foundry. We then began curating photography and video that embodied the signature approach: Blending the softness of botanical elements forged in metal.