I think it’s every designer’s dream is to help create a brand from inception, to be part of the process from start to finish. I knew as soon as Wes approached me with his idea that it would be an epic journey, but I never imagined the creative freedom that this project would offer. It really was a blank canvas for me to work on
Friends and Allies creative journey started as, and I quote “Retro African design crossed with a Tropical Cuban theme”. That was the first sentence I put down to work from. From there we slowly started dropping the Cuban idea and focused more on the African theme. FA is about community and creating a space to grow, educate, inspire and impact SA climbing. And what makes SA climbing so unique? The fact that we’re South African, a rich unique melting pot of culture that is unlike any in the world. So that’s exactly what we started focusing on.
I wanted to create a brand that spoke of African culture but didn’t appropriate it, creating an identity that whispered of SA culture but was unique to FA. I started looking at shapes and symbols that are particular to South Africa, simplifying and applying them to the space in a creative and playful manner. A lot of influence was drawn from Shebeens and their use of colours and shapes, especially on the exterior of buildings. That hand painted, rustic feel you get when you step into one is something we wanted to create at FA.
My role then slowly moved from designer to guiding a team of painters, which in itself was an amazing experience. Coming in with very little knowledge of how to paint on such a large scale, the process was such a great learning opportunity. With all the hands and help of the community, and the creative freedom I had, it allowed us to create a space that truly represents the African hand painted style and embody the FA community driven philosophy.
What a journey it’s been, and I hope you guys enjoy the space you helped create!