Behind The Brief: Bajamar Beer by SHIFT

Monterrey agency, Shift, creates a clean, modern and vibrant look for Ecuadorian craft beer brand, Bajamar.

INTERVIEW BY CRISTIE STEVENS
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First of all, tell us about the studio.

We are a design studio based in Monterrey, Mexico. We started in 2013, we specialize in industrial design, graphic design, automotive design and interior design.

How did the client come to find and hire you?

Bajamar is a particularly interesting project for me on a personal level as our client is a very good friend of mine. I met Master brewer Diego Reyes a few years back in college, where we used to drink and talk about one day doing our own beer. Fast forward a couple of years and he contacts me about this new project.

Can you tell us about the initial project conversations?

Diego had a very clear idea in the way he wished to position his product. Devised for the mainstream mass consumer market in Ecuador.

Diego wished to create something that would sensitize the audience and introduce the intricacies of craft beer without offering a completely artisanal brew. Initial conversations were centered in this very concept, the differences, similarities, and characteristics of both craft beer and commercial beer, and the way in which his offering would blend the best of both worlds.

Another important aspect of the brief was that the brand should be identifiable as being from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Bajamar’s home.

The initial exploration stage was key, getting to know and share Diego’s vision of the product as well as the whole environment and context of the brand, its audience, the city and people of Guayaquil. These factors are what generate the project’s sources of inspiration and strategy, for us it’s all in the exploration stage.

What does your design process look like?

We believe our design process is very hands-on from its earlier stages to the design’s implementation. In every project a close relationship with our client is key, a level of trust and confidence is required to create the ideal environment so we can exchange information, ideas, opinions, and thoughts. For Bajamar the process itself wasn’t very different from any other of our projects, involving an exploration, creation and prototyping stage. As with any other project, the initial exploration stage was key, getting to know and share Diego’s vision of the product as well as the whole environment and context of the brand, its audience, the city and people of Guayaquil. These factors are what generate the project’s sources of inspiration and strategy, for us it’s all in the exploration stage.

Can you talk us through the thinking behind the final design?

One of the main questions we would ask ourselves was how to create that perfect blend (between craft beer and commercial beer) that the product required, how would we achieve that equilibrium so as to reach the desired audience? This was perhaps our main challenge.

In our exploration stage, we found Guayaquil to be a beautiful city with an interesting mix of factors. Guayaquil, is a port city, an industrial harbor with a maritime culture and history, yet also home to sandy and sunny beaches, colorful colonial architecture and warm people. We found all these contrasting themes and settings colliding in a very particular blend that could very well be the answer to our main problem.

Given Bajamar’s unique formula, Guayaquil’s aesthetic would, therefore, serve as our main inspiration. The clean, modern and industrial typographic elements were extracted from container and ship labels, while several other maritime motifs allude to the port and maritime culture, including Bajamar’s name which means “Low Tide”.

The modern feel of the brand stems from the industrial side of the city which is also meant to evoke the beer’s mainstream and commercial side. On the other hand, the color palettes seen in some of Guayaquil’s iconic neighbourhoods was something we really wanted to use, hence the vibrant colors alluding to Guayaquil’s sunny beaches and colorful architecture.

As seen in Guayaquil’s cityscapes and landscapes, we decided to tackle the brand’s more human and artisanal aspect through details and color. Hand drawn icons and the development of Diego’s own Master Brewer seal, help evoke the artistry, precision, and sophistication behind the product’s development.

We believe the result is a unique coastal vibe that successfully merges the industrial and commercial aspects of the brand with a warmer, more human side.

The clean, modern and industrial typographic elements were extracted from container and ship labels, while several other maritime motifs allude to the port and maritime culture, including Bajamar’s name which means “Low Tide”.

Bajamar Logo

What was your favorite part of the process?

We enjoy every part of the process, yet given Bajamar was a project developed for another country we really enjoyed the exploration stage, being able to discover and explore the different aspects of Guayaquil and its people. Putting together the different moodboards based on the images and photographs from our research was both challenging and satisfying. After several iterations, we found the right tone and mix that would adequately portray the combination of elements we were looking for.

In what ways did the initial concepts differ from the final execution?

I would say the final result is a natural evolution of our initial sketches. Our process takes us through a very organic development, in this case, the precision of the moodboards generated is vital. We try to establish a clear concept and language in terms of forms, color percentages, materials, etc. before we start sketching. I would say this is part of the reason why our initial concepts don’t differ much from the final result.

One final question, whose work is inspiring you right now?

We are continually looking for inspiration everywhere. It usually is about being receptive to everything. I could say right now (on a personal note and I may also be talking on behalf of many members of the team) we admire a lot of what Daniel Arsham and Snarkitecture are doing as well as the ideas behind many streetwear brands like Ambush, Kith, and Fear of God.

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Behind the Brief is an interview series celebrating the creative process where we speak to the team behind the project, pulling back the curtain on their design thinking, strategy and process to learn how they arrived at the final design.