Preserving history. Creating stories.
Down by the Brooklyn Bridge is the oldest waterfront neighborhood in New York City — the historic seaport district. Since the early days of New York, the district’s vibrant streets, restaurants and bars have been places for stories you won’t believe and stories yet to come.
Then October 2012 happened. The district was devastated by superstorm Sandy and many local businesses lost everything. Everything except their passion for the old neighborhood. They stood their ground, and a year later most are ready to reopen better and stronger than before.
In April 2013, MBLM joined a small business alliance to help spearhead the district’s revival. Over two days, the agency’s team and merchants worked together to find ways to put the district back on the map. But they quickly realized it was about more than that. The 12-block district was at risk of losing not only its vitality and commerce, but its identity as well. The image of an authentic and thriving NYC district had been replaced by pictures of devastation and hopelessness. So the team defined their goal: brand to preserve. A rallying cry to retain the district’s character as much as bring people back.
A few months ago, I was approached by Project Runway to participate in an episode that included the HP and Intel Pattern Challenge. I listened intently as the producers explained the challenge even though I knew exactly what they were going to say since I am a huge fan of the show. At this point in the competition there were only seven fashion designers left. Each remaining designer would be paired with a “Next Generation Achiever” to help inspire a pattern that was then made into a textile and incorporated into their runway look. And they wanted ME to be that inspirational person!!
After I finished doing the happy dance followed by consecutive shrieks of joy I regained consciousness and started to panic. How in the world was I going to be an inspiration?
I started to think about the role of a graphic designer and how powerful design can be when used effectively. As creative director at GDUSA magazine I am fully immersed in the world of design and I continually find that the best designed projects are those that come from a labor of love. For me, this labor of love is Barbalu.
Each fashion designer had the chance to spend an hour with their innovator to draw inspiration for their pattern. I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandria von Bromssen at the future home of Barbalu. As I explained to Alexandria, Barbalu is a soon-to-open Italian restaurant near the South Street Seaport. In October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated my beloved hometown of New York City and the restaurant in which we stood was filled with more than 6 feet of storm water. Everything was gone. But now — nearly a year to date — the brave owners are rebuilding in the same location. The business needed to start from scratch and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to help them redesign their entire identity.
Guest Blog Post by Ben Steele, Hornall Anderson
These days, a trip down the beer aisle can be downright overwhelming — with mainstream and craft brewers all vying for consumer attention in an increasingly crowded space. Consumers are demanding distinctive package design and true innovation.
The question is … are designers listening?